Supplement or Food? The Latest from the FDA

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Are You Drinking Candy?Have you heard the news? The FDA has just laid out new guidelines to help clarify the difference between liquid supplements and drinks. We've got the scoop on everything you need to know about these guidelines...

Why Clarify the Difference Now?

The beverage/supplement marketplace is growing, and novelty ingredients abound. According to the FDA, these final guidelines were published "for industry to help dietary supplement and beverage manufacturers determine whether a liquid food product is properly classified as a dietary supplement or as a beverage, and to remind the industry of legal requirements regarding the substances that may be added to either type of product." In other words, there are two major reasons for clarifying this difference:

  1. To help the companies that make drinks or supplements accurately classify their products.
  2. To underline the importance of the rules about what substances may be added to drinks and what substances may be added to liquid supplements.

So, Exactly What are the Guidelines?

There are several factors that differentiate liquid supplements from drinks. According to the FDA's new guidelines, these factors include...

  • How the product is advertised: product packaging, product claims, product names, and "statements or graphic representations in labeling and advertising" (from the FDA constituent update).
  • How the product will be used: recommended daily intake, serving size, and conditions of use.
  • What the product is made of: its composition and ingredient list.

When it comes to industry guidelines, the update serves as a reminder to manufacturers. It lays out the requirements established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and reminds the companies that make drinks and supplements that there are rules that apply to the ingredients in their products.

Note: These are Guidelines, Not Restrictions

While these guidelines lay out their rules in no uncertain terms, the fact remains that they are guidelines, not actual regulations.

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