Makers Of SmartCandy Warned About Possibly Misleading Nutrition Claims

smartcandyThe Attorney General’s office for the state of New York is cautioning the company behind “vitamin infused snack” SmartCandy that its advertising may run afoul of state and federal regulations, according to a letter obtained by Consumerist.

The office of NY AG Eric Schneiderman sent the letter [PDF] to Massachusetts-based Snap Infusion LLC on Friday.

SmartCandy’s packaging says the product is “infused” with vitamins A, B, and C, while marketing materials and social media for SmartCandy describes it as an “excellent source” of these vitamins. The letter contends that these vitamins must be added to the product, as the minimal fruit content in the ingredients is not sufficient to provide these nutrients.

The AG’s office warns that this addition of vitamins to SmartCandy may be in violation of FDA regulations regarding fortified foods. More precisely, the portion of the policy where the FDA states that it does not “consider it appropriate to fortify… snack foods such as candies and carbonated beverages.”

The letter also takes issue with claims like “SmartCandy is jam packed with vitamin A, making sure your vision is healthy and clear,” and “Infused with a unique blend of B Vitamins, SmartCandy gives your brain and body the boost it needs.” According to the AG, statements like these “appear unsubstantiated and therefore misleading.”

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Also allegedly misleading, argues the letter, is SmartCandy’s prominent use of fruit like orange and strawberry on the packaging. A reading of the ingredient lists for these particular flavors show that the only fruit content is “white grape juice concentrate” and less than 2% dried orange and strawberry powders.

The two other SmartCandy varieties may be even more problematic, according to the letter. For instance, the “Sour Gummy” version, which prominently states “orange, cherry, lemon” on the packaging, contains no fruit products except for elderberry juice, which is only used for color. The “Sweet Gummy” version — which lists “mixed berry, grape, and strawberry” on the package — uses elderberry and grape juices for color only, but no other fruit content.

“Thus, the claims concerning the fruit content of SmartCandy appear to be misleading and deceptive,” states the letter.

In a post on the SmartCandy Facebook page, the company references the USDA nutrition requirements for foods sold in schools and contends that its orange- and strawberry-flavored “Froot” versions “pass with flying colors.”

However, the AG argues that this isn’t the case. The products, with 5g of sugar per 14g serving, are just at the 35% (by weight) sugar content threshold outlined in this USDA document [PDF] but the letter alleges that SmartCandy does not meet qualify because it doesn’t meet the other criteria that would qualify it for sale in schools.

Schneiderman’s office is requesting copies of all of SmartCandy’s advertising and marketing materials that have been used to market to New York residents, along with copies of press kits and promotional materials sent to health professionals.

The letter also asks for documentation to substantiate claims that SmartCandy is “natural” and that it passes the USDA test for foods sold in schools.

Consumerist has reached out to Snap Infusion for comment regarding the concerns expressed in the AG’s letter. We will update if we get a response from the company.