How can consumers determine if their beverage is a dietary supplement or a food?

The distinction is an important one, since products that fall into the beverage category are regulated as food. It is also a safety issue – especially if consumers cannot easily tell if a liquid supplement should be taken in small doses. WholeFoods Magazine Article on FDA Guidelines

One the safety front, the manufacturers of dietary supplements often take heat for marketing to children – especially since their products are frequently filed with caffeine and herbal additives.

The reality is that dietary supplements are less regulated than conventional foods, so beverage manufacturers would much prefer to have their products labeled as dietary supplements than foods. FDA Looking to Clarify Difference

In an effort to clarify the differences, U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines earlier this week to help determine whether certain beverages — including controversial energy drinks — should be classified by manufacturers as dietary supplements, as well as other guidance about ingredients added to foods and drinks.

In its “Guidance for Industry: Distinguishing Liquid Dietary Supplements from Beverages” the FDA updated its 2009 draft guidance, with information designed to help  dietary supplement and beverage manufacturers and distributors determine whether a product in liquid form is properly classified as a dietary supplement or as a beverage.

“We have observed an increase in the marketing of liquid products with a wide array of ingredients and intended uses,” the FDA said in a statement. “Some of these products are marketed as dietary supplements, and others as conventional foods. Some products may be misbranded because their labeling or other representations made about them are inconsistent with the product category under which they are being marketed.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition – a trade organization for the dietary supplement industry – described the FDA’s beverage guidance as an “instructive roadmap” for stakeholders on this subject, with president and CEO Steve Mister commenting, “this is how we address the issues and grow as an industry—by identifying problems and maintaining a strong dialogue with our regulators.”

Do you agree? Do you think dietary supplements should be more regulated? For more information on the topic read on.

FDA Questions Safety of Dietary Supplements

Print Friendly, PDF & Email