Wednesday, April 23, 2008
NSA Distributors Misrepresent Consumer Lab Juice Plus Analysis
What O Magazine Really Said About Juice Plus
The June 2004 issue of O, a magazine published by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo, Inc., featured an article entitled “A Dose of Reality”, which summarized some of the results of an analysis of several brands of multivitamins conducted by Consumer Lab, a leading independent product testing organization. The main text of the O magazine article did not mention Juice Plus; however, the product was listed in a table along with 6 other brands of supplements, in addition to this statement “Passed: These supplements live up to their label for the ingredients they were tested for.” No other information on Juice Plus was provided. What the ingredients were that Juice Pus was tested for, Oprah’s article never said, but the Consumer Lab website did, and the results were not all consistent with what the Juice Plus distributors were saying in their sales pitches.
What Consumer Lab’s Analysis Really Showed
Until late 2007, Consumer Lab had posted on their website the full results of the multivitamin analysis alluded to in O magazine; it was available to online subscribers only and the JPRB has archived copies of the report obtained during that time. The online report has since been replaced with a more recent multivitamin analysis, which did not include Juice Plus; however, the original Juice Plus analysis can still be obtained by contacting Consumer Lab directly.
Unlike many of the other multivitamins analyzed by Consumer Lab, Juice Plus, at that time, did not list any ingredient amounts on the bottle label (this has since changed and at least some of the bottles sold in the U.S. now list ingredient amounts, as % RDA, for 6 vitamins: folate; vitamins A, C, and E; iron and calcium). The details of the report revealed that, since no nutrient amounts were listed on the Juice Plus bottles provided, Consumer Lab used special criteria to evaluate the product -- they analyzed the capsules contents and compared the results with NSAs claim that Juice Plus contains “the beta-carotene of 3 raw carrots; the vitamin C of 4 oranges, and the vitamin E of more than several 1 cup servings of spinach and broccoli." The report states that “the values shown (for Juice Plus) are actual amounts found in combination of one capsule of each, as none were listed”. All other brands of supplements in the test were judged based on their listed nutrient amounts by weight.
Consumer Lab analyzed the combined nutrient content of 1 capsule of Orchard Blend together with 1 capsule of Garden Blend. According to their results, Juice Plus met with NSA’s claim about “the beta-carotene of 3 raw carrots; the vitamin C of 4 oranges, and the vitamin E of more than several one-cup servings of spinach and broccoli", and on that basis the product was given a passing grade (i.e., it did not underpromise for those 3 ingredients). However, the full profile for the 12 nutrients actually reported in Consumer Lab’s analysis paints a very different picture. The results of the analysis are summarized in the following table (click on image for full-size version).
Figure 1: Juice Plus nutrient amounts: Consumer Lab analysis results compared with bottle label claims and U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance.
1 Amounts reported verbatim by Consumer Lab (values are for a combination of one capsule Orchard Blend and one capsule Garden Blend (2 capsules total).
2 Amounts contained in the 4-capsule daily Juice Plus regimen (2 Orchard Blend + 2 Garden Blend) calculated by doubling the amounts listed in column 1.
3 Percentage of the amount in 4 capsules, according to Consumer Lab, relative to the amounts claimed on Juice Plus bottle labels. The corresponding amounts by weight were calculated by multiplying [% RDA listed on bottle (4 capsules)] x [RDA by weight (mg or µg)] (data not shown). Note that Juice Plus U.S. bottle labels prior to 2006 did not list the amounts of any ingredients. Post-2006, the labels still do not specify any ingredient amounts by weight, but now specify the amounts for 6 nutrients (beta-carotene, vitamins A/C/E, calcium and iron) as a percentage of of the U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA).
4 The percentage of nutrient RDAs in Juice Plus 4-capsule regime calculated based on Consumer Lab’s data.
Juice Plus Found to Contain 5-Times More Vitamin C Than Advertised
According to information on Juice Plus bottle labels, the combined daily 4-capsule regimen provides (as % RDA): 250% beta-carotene, 390% vitamin C, 150% vitamin E, 105% folate, 6% calcium, and 4% iron. According to Consumer Lab, the 4-capsule regimen provides roughly the advertised amount of beta-carotene, vitamin E, folate, calcium, and iron, but the vitamin C content was roughly 20 times higher than the RDA and 5-fold higher than the amount claimed by the manufacturer. The 4-capsule regimen has a weight of 3 grams (750 mg per capsule); therefore, the Consumer Lab test results show that Juice Plus capsules contains 40% vitamin C by weight. According to the manufacturer-claimed amount, they should only contain about 8% vitamin C by weight.
Juice Plus Found to Be Deficient in Most Nutrients
Consumer Lab’s tests reported the amounts of several nutrients that are not listed as ingredients on Juice Plus bottle labels (i.e. magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorous, manganese, and chromium). With the exception of manganese (17% RDA) Juice Plus failed to provide more than 6% of RDA for these nutrients, as well as calcium and iron -- 8 nutrients in total. Six of these nutrients are present in most retail multivitamins at amounts meeting RDA.
Juice Plus Distributors Misrepresent O Magazine and Consumer Lab Report
The following are promotional statements from Juice Plus distributors regarding the O magazine story and Consumer Lab tests.
“Their only claim is that is is (sic) made from 17 fruits, vegetables and grains, which has been proven through several studies including one conducted by Consumer Labs (sic), and (sic) independent watchdog organization, and published in Oprah’s O Magazine."
Jessica L. Long, Juice Plus Distributor
This was far from proven. The Consumer Lab report never even tested whether Juice Plus was made from 17 fruits, vegetables and grains, nor did they make any comment remotely like the one made by Ms. Long.
“Juice Plus was even included in Oprah’s June issue as one of only seven supplements that passed rigorous testing for ingredient authenticity by Consumer Labs…Do you know what you are feeding your family? With Juice Plus, you know”.
Donna Partow, Juice Plus Distributor
Apprently, Juice Plus customers don't know what they are actually feeding their family because NSA and their distributors were never forthcoming about Consumer Lab’s test results. Additionally, the Consumer Lab report did not include any testing, rigorous or otherwise, for ingredient authenticity.
"In an article in Oprah Magazine, a “watchdog” group tested many supplements and found JUICE PLUS to be one of the few that actually did and was what it claimed!"
Jane T. Kelley, Juice Plus Distributor
Consumer Lab never commented on what Juice Plus did, only whether what was in it matched NSA’s claim regarding the amount of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E relative to carrots, oranges, and broccoli, respectively.
"Juice Plus was 1 of the 7 supplements out of 100 tested that passed Oprah's tests - to determine if they were safe, and if it contained what it said on the label."
Cindy Nabicht, Juice Plus Distributor
First, they were not Oprah's tests, they were conducted independently by Consumer Lab. Secondly, no attempt at all was made to determine if Juice Plus or any of the other supplements were safe. Lastly, the report included 40 supplements, not hundreds. That’s 3 swings and 3 misses.
“Oprah Magazine exclusively released a study by ConsumerLab.com, an independent watchdog group, that found that Juice Plus was among a small group of daily vitamins that actually deliver on their promises.”
Teresa Hall, Juice Plus Distributor
Juice Plus promises a lot of things but Consumer Lab never tested the veracity of NSA’s various farfetched promises.
“It was also featured in Oprah's magazine as being one of the best supplements.”
Lori, Juice Plus Distributor
O magazine didn’t come even remotely close to saying that Juice Plus was one of the best supplements.
Distributors have been actively misquoting and passing out copies of the O magazine article and misleading people into believing that Consumer's Lab's Juice Plus analysis showed favorable results, when in fact it clearly did not. The amount of vitamin C, a very inexpensive ingredient, was 5-times higher than what is claimed on the Juice Plus bottle label. The product was also deficient in a variety of nutrients, many of which can be obtained at RDA amounts from an inexpensive multivitamin. The poor nutrient profile shown in the Consumer Lab analysis confirms previous crticism regarding the product's lack of value and benefit. It also raises serious issues about poor manufacturing quality control, undisclosed changes in ingredients, and mislabeling of the product.
- O Magazine; June 2004:135-138.
- 2006 Multivitamin/multimineral product review: ingredient comparison tables. Consumer Lab.
- Comment in: Central Florida Green Guide.
- Jessica L. Long -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates. http://www.juiceplus.com/nsa/pages/Home.soa?site=jl02327
- Partow, Donna. Don't have time to eat healthy? Donna Partow Ministries.
- Donna Partow -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates.
- Comment in: Juice Plus, a knockout way to improve your health. Knockout Ideas.
- Jane T. Kelley -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates.
- Comment by Cindy in: Twinstuff Forums; January 28 2008.
- Cindy Nabicht -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates.
- Hall, Teresa. Pro Health Views.
- Teresa Hall -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates.
- Comment by Lori in: Celiac Chicago. Blogspot.com; October 9, 2007.
- Lori -- Juice Plus distributor webpage. National Safety Associates.
Juice Plus Executive Finances 14-Year Old Croatian Tennis Player, Gets Endorsement Deal and Management Contract in Return
How did the face of rising women’s tennis star Ana Ivanovic recently end up on a Juice Plus brochure? The answer, in a nutshell, is that Ivanovic was roped into an endorsement deal by a European Juice Plus executive who, years earlier, had become her financier and manager.
News reports describe that Ivanovic, now 20 years old, was an unknown, cash-strapped, junior women’s tennis player in Croatia when she first met Dan Holzmann, a chief executive of NSA AG, a European subsidiary of National Safety Associates. Holzmann’s holding company purchased NSA’s German and Swiss subsidiaries in 1996 from the parent company NSA International, Inc. (based in Tennessee) for the sum of $1.5 million paid over 7 years.
At the age of 14, Ivanovic, whose manager at the time was facing bankruptcy, visited Holzmann at his home in Basel, Switzerland for a meeting. According to Holzmann, he saw a driven, talented young athlete who also "had the personality and looks to nudge any other princess from the marketing throne". Holzmann said, “Ivanovic was grateful, to a fault, for some smaller favors,” adding that “she was overcome once when he gave her $100 in pocket money, and never used it.” After that first meeting, Holzmann admitted “I was smitten at that moment”.
Soon after their initial meeting in Switzerland, Holzmann agreed to finance Ivanovic and manage her career. At the time, Holzmann was 32 and Ivanovic was 15 and he had never managed a tennis player. Over the next few years Holzmann provided Ana with funds and covered all of her expenses; an investment that reportedly totaled about $500,000. However, Holzmann stated:
“She paid back everything. I’m in plus now, not in the minus--not in minus--she paid back and she paid back much more than that or lets say her business paid back much more than that. It took her about two years to pay the money back.”
Juice Plus advertising brochures featuring Ivanovic’s picture began appearing in 2007. To date, we are unaware of any Juice advertising in which Ivanovic claims to actually use or support the use of the products.
- NSA AG Homepage.
- NSA International, Inc.: 8-K (9/2/96) -- SEC File 0-19487/Accession Number 950144-96-6409. Securities and Exchange Commission; September 17, 1996.
- DeSimone, B. Ivanovic working on the complete package. ESPN; June 8, 2007.
- Robson, D. Ivanovic sets stage for success in US Open. USA Today; July 15, 2007.
- Thirty-something benefactor credited with bankrolling Ana Ivanovic career. Sport by Brooks.
- DH Management AG Homepage.
- Rovell, D. Ana Ivanovic: last post for now (but maybe not!). CNBC Sportsbiz; August 28, 2007
Readers Respond (April 23, 2008): Juice Plus Distributor Reconsiders and Quits the Business
OK, I admit it. I liked the idea of JP+ enough to sell it (well, not really; just become a distributor so I could get the discount for my family, I don't like selling anything). A friend mentioned his skepticism towards the product and when I asked why, he sent me a lot of information - your blog, of course, being included.
First, thank you for the information you offer. I really appreciate the Golden Apple Awards, What Is (and Is Not) in Juice Plus, and many of the articles in the archives. I have to admit though, it was tough for me to get to them as I was going through many of the entries. It felt like so much was too bitter to be anything but a grudge for people who lack other outlets; a contest to see who could look the most sophisticated while beating the product to a pulp (pun sort of intended). It would have been easier for me, and perhaps others, if the venom were left out and just the amazing facts you have were presented.
Again, thank you. My renewal just came up (and for the record, it's only been one year) and I won't be wasting my money.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and kind praise for our blog. We are thrilled that you found the information on the site useful and that it helped you to make an informed decision to drop out of the Juice Plus business. Your point about venom-free articles is duly noted. However, bear in mind that we like to give our core contributors and respondents some latitude to express their displeasure with Juice Plus and related entities, since there are very few venues where people can vent about Juice Plus to a receptive and like-minded audience. But rest assured that the vast majority of our content has been and will continue to be based on cold, dry analyses of information in the public domain, and whenever factual claims are made, they will be backed up by reliable citations that can easily be confirmed by anyone who cares to do so.