A Kansas company’s claims that elderberry juice can prevent certain illnesses or be used to treat certain diseases are unproven and illegal, the government charged in court papers last week before seizing the juice maker’s products.

In a complaint filed May 27 in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, the Food and Drug Administration said Wyldewood Cellars of Peck, Kansas, makes claims in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among those claims: that its elderberry juice concentrate cures, treats, or prevents various disease conditions, including AIDS, diabetes and flu.

U.S. Marshals, acting at the request of the FDA, carried out the court order to halt distribution of the company’s elderberry juice in what has been a long-standing dispute between the company and government regulators.

“Kansas consumers should be aware that Wyldewood Cellars has been under notice since 2006 that its claims for the medicinal powers of elderberry juice are unproven and violate federal law,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement.

In its news release, the FDA claims that because elderberry juice products made by Wyldewood Cellars were being promoted and distributed as drugs, they are, under the law, unapproved and misbranded drugs.

Back in October, 2006, the FDA issued a warning letter to Wyldewood Cellars. The FDA said the company responded to the warning letter promising to remove all health claims from its websites, but subsequent inspections revealed it had not.

“Products with unapproved disease claims are dangerous because they may cause consumers to delay or avoid legitimate treatments,” Dara Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement. “The FDA is committed to protecting consumers from unapproved products on the market. We will continue to take actions against companies that do not meet federal standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.”