Earlier this year, the National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, had ruled that the Goli gummies did not have enough apple cider vinegar in an average serving to be able to claim any sort of health benefit for the ingredient. Goli’s claims and product marketing had been challenged by competitor Bragg Live Food Products LLC, which markets the best-selling brand of apple cider vinegar in the natural channel.
While the scientific jury is still out as to the precise health benefits of apple cider vinegar, the consensus is that whatever those benefits might be, they are connected to vinegar that contains what’s called ‘The Mother.’ This refers to a biofilm of acetic acid bacteria that ferment alcohol into vinegar. In unrefined and unfiltered products it gives the vinegar a cloudy appearance.
The presence of the bacterial cells has been associated with gut health benefits, and apple cider vinegar, which contains some of the polyphenols found in the fruit, is itself linked to blood sugar and anti obesity benefits. Recent research has even suggested a potential neuroprotective effect.
How much is enough?
The question is how much vinegar is needed? There is at present little agreement among researchers about the dosing of apple cider vinegar nor is there any regulatory guidance on the subject. But a dose of one to two tablespoons daily is often cited. That works out to about 15 grams to 30 grams of vinegar.
The Goli gummies contain 500 mg of vinegar per gummy, and the company recommends consumers eat two or three gummies a day. That would equate to a dose of 1.5 grams at most. That’s not enough to make or imply a health claim, the initial NAD ruling had found.
The further implication was that by using ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’ in the name of the gummies, it implied the health claims associated with the ingredient.
NARB: Name use approved; dosing question set aside
The NARB, which reviews NAD decisions that have been appealed, said that Goli had provided sufficient substantiation to use ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’ in the product name.
Goli won another point by getting NARB to admit that the dosage question, which is the subject of litigation, according to the company, should not have formed part of the original NAD deliberation. NARB was careful to note, though, that this did not imply an approval of Goli’s dosing strategy.
On the subject of the labeling, NARB ruled that while it is true that labels can be false and misleading, without consumer research showing that Goli’s labels had misled end users to expect benefits the product might not deliver, the company was within its rights to continue to use the name.