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FDA rejects green tea health claims


4 Star

FDA rejects green tea health claims

Our Review Summary

This story reports on the FDA’s recent rejection of a petition to allow sellers of green tea to make claims that the product can lower heart disese risk. Oddly, the story gave almost equal time to the supposition of benefit from green tea as it did to an explanation of the science behind the FDA’s decision. This story had the opportunity to help educate consumers about how to assess unsubstantiated claims made about products.

Although there have been a number of benefits suggested from consumption of green tea, informed consumers should be aware of the differece between these and health claims supported by scientific evidence.

The story also could have presented evidence on the potential harms of green tea and on alternative evidence-based ways to reduce heart disease risk.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although it was mentioned that the largest maker of green tea had profits last year of $14 million, there was no estimate for the cost of green tea for the consumer.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

This was a report on the lack of evidence to support the contention that green tea consumption provided benefit in terms of heart disease risk.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

This report revealed that the assumed benefit of green tea for reducing heart disease was not supported by the scientific evidence. It did not, however, discuss the potential adverse effects of green tea, particularly caffeine, on patients with known cardiovascular disease.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


This story mentioned that the FDA reviewed the results from 105 studies in order to reach its conclusion that there was not sufficient evidence to support the health claim that green tea reduces the risk of heart disease. It ended with mention of the plans by the company marketing green tea to conduct future studies to try and prove the health benefits.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This story presents the conflict between what people believe to be true – bits of scientific evidence that drift into public consciousness (i.e. Green tea has antioxidants, therefore it is good for you) – and demonstsration of clinicial benefit.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


This story contained interviews with several people on the street to support the contention that consumption of green tea is common place; as well as a quote from a marketing manager from what is reported to be the largest maker of green tea. For perspective on why the FDA was petitioned for this health claim, quotes from scientists working in the area of heart disease risk or the biochemistry of antioxidants might have been useful.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of lifestyle changes or drugs that have been demonstrated to decrease heart disease risk.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


This story mentions that millions of Americans drink beverages containing green tea.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


There was no claim made of novelty associated with consumption of green tea. Just the opposite. Though green tea is recently popular in the United States, mention was made of its consumption in Asia for thousands of years.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


This piece does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory


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