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FDA sour on health claims for cherries
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FDA sour on health claims for cherries,1,7188152.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

FDA sour on health claims for cherries

Associated Press

March 22, 2006

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Olivene Robbins swears that a daily glass of concentrated tart cherry juice cured her painful gout. "It's almost like a miracle to me," says the 69-year-old resident of Hickory, N.C.

Consumers like Robbins now are caught in a fight between federal health officials and the cherry industry. The industry is marketing cherries as health food, trumpeting research showing they contain helpful antioxidants, along with testimonials from buyers.

At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered 29 companies to stop making unproven claims that their cherry products treat or prevent disease.

"We have the government telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables, and we have the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding some of these fruit studies--and now we have another arm of the federal government that says you can't use the research," said Bob Underwood, whose Traverse City company sells capsules containing cherry and blueberry paste.

Since receiving FDA letters last fall, some producers of cherry products have removed or reworded their health benefit statements. Others still make the connection, and an industry group still tells consumers that cherries are good for them.

Antioxidants are believed to neutralize free radicals--compounds that damage cells in the body and are implicated in disorders such as cancers and Alzheimer's disease.

The FDA told the 29 companies that by claiming their products could prevent, treat or cure disease, they were in effect calling them drugs. New drugs require FDA approval.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune,1,7188152.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


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