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Twinings Tea Product Labels Fuel Court Case

Twinings Green Tea Product Labels Taken to Court Over Front-of-Package Claim

Twinings USA recently came under fire for using product labels that lauded the company's green tea as being a "natural source of antioxidants." According to the Association of Corporate Counsel, a federal court in San Jose, California, dismissed some of the claims against Twinings on March 1, but cited that the company must issue a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letter of warning.

The case's main plaintiff, Nancy Lanovaz, alleged that Twinings misled consumers by promoting health benefits without properly detailing what nutrients were subject to the label's nutrient content claim as regulated by the FDA. The court denied Twinings' request for a dismissal and scheduled an initial case management conference in April.

"Natural Sources" Undefined by FDA for Custom Food Label Claims Much of the dispute arose from what can be defined as a "natural source," because the FDA has not specifically defined what constitutes a "source" or a "natural source" in its bylines. Twinings countered that the plaintiff was relying heavily on a "hyper-technical" violation of FDA food label regulations.

According to the FDA, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) does permit the use of custom food label claims regarding a nutrient content that is made in line with FDA's authorizing regulations. Any antioxidant nutrient, such as the ones claimed as being in Twinings' green teas, must meet the requirements.