NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned food companies that the use of herbs as ingredients in food items and drinks could be illegal and unsafe for consumers, according to a published report Thursday.|
The FDA issued warning letters to three companies – Hansen Beverage, U.S. Mills and Fresh Samantha, owned by Odawalla – whose products contain popular ingredients such as ginko biloba, Siberian ginseng and echinacea, that the agency may ask them to present scientific evidence to prove that the herbal ingredients are safe, the New York Times said.
The agency said herbs have never been approved for consumption in food and it will send letters to more manufacturers in the coming week. "There are hundreds of these products and hundreds of companies. There's no reason to think that any of them are different," the Times quoted Christine Lewis, director of FDA's office of nutritional products, as saying.
For big manufacturers like PepsiCo Inc. (PEP: Research, Estimates) and Cadbury Schweppes (CSG: Research, Estimates), for which the Herb-infused drinks represent the fastest growing segment of the beverage business, the agency's probe could hit the bottom line, the paper said.
SoBe's 'Enlightenment Zen' energizing drink. (Source:SoBe)|
Pepsi's top-selling SoBe drinks, which the company acquired last year from South Beach Beverage Co., are a variety of juices and teas enhanced with vitamins and herbal.
Cadbury Schweppes' popular Snapple drinks also contain herbal additives.
Hansen Chairman Rodney Sacks said the company has no immediate plans to remove herbal ingredients from its drinks, while a spokeswoman for Fresh Samantha said the company had not received the agency's letter, the report said.