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.”

  • Doc Mudd

    Good to see FDA finally going after a few of the frauds and charlatans in the ‘nutritional supplement’ industry. It’s about time. FDA has their work cut out for them – this is what we pay them to do.

  • dangermaus

    The government’s ability to punish people for making unproven, specific health claims probably helps prevent things from getting worse than they are now, but it’s not enough to combat the deluge of crap information in food, supplements and cosmetics ads that sounds like health advice but, upon examination of the actual words used, is just meaningless fluff. Free speech in the US seems to include everything except false statements of fact, so I doubt there’s anything that can (or even should) be done to try to force them to stop using that tactic.
    Something the FDA *COULD* actually do, and unfortunately, it would cost some money, would be to have major, continuous advertising campaign to continuously remind the public that these intentionally vague claims are deceitful, intentionally confusing, and are aimed at selling products, not informing the public – but the lobbyists would never let that happen.

  • John Calvin Jones

    Thank goodness for the Obama administration and his new and improved FDA. This is Change I can believe in! These kooks should not be allowed to sell any kind of food. I eat only processed, GMO foods. I eschew raw food. I prefer cooking with teflon or a microwave. And as soon as I can take solyent green I will be first in line for that too.
    One last thing, to all readers make sure you get extra flu shots, Tdap boosters (they are not just for kids any more), and demand that government impose small pox vaccines. The latter is still given in Mexico but not in the U.S.! Just think all the illegal immigrants are protected, but Americans are not. Is Mexico, Russia, or Venezuela planning to invade with bio-weapons?

  • Greg

    Excuse me?!!! The FDA goes out of it’s fricking WAY to crack down on the oh so bad nutrition companies and their products being a “drug” but I have a bit of that elderberry juice in a bottle; and guess what, NO claim to treat, cure or otherwise reverse anything like cancer, AIDS, or whatever. If consuming products that aren’t put through commercialization like typical supermarket foods by drowning them in ARTIFICIAL pesticides, fertilizers and what other Junk and are actually GOOD for you is wrong, well then I guess all our great-great grandparents were criminals from cradle to grave.
    You want to know what would REALLY make a positive impact FDA?!! How about actually regulating drugs like VIOXX and how many other drugs with KNOWN toxic side-effects. In fact, it’s been known for what, 2 to 4 YEARS the FDA knew about the Vioxx problem for 2 FRICKING YEARS and didn’t DO anything about it that whole time?!!!
    In fact, maybe if we REALLY give a rat’s butt about everyone’s health in this country, then perhaps we need a WHOLE BUNCH of Freedom of Speech when it comes to health foods and the abolition of the FDA!!!


    You sheep idiots think your govt loves u dont u. Wake the …. up. We have tyranny going on and you sheep are rooting for it? We have an overstepping govt, and the FDA constantly sells out to big pharma, the evil corporation Monsanto, and any other big business. The drug companies don’t want natural safe remedies, they want you addicted to their side effects riddles pills. WAKE THE HELL UP. THE FDA should be ——- abolished. People can learn up and choose to take what they want. This was a free country. Turn off controlled mainstream media and their brainwash, and go learn something called the truth.

  • mrothschild

    Dear “Patriott”: Or why not just sit down and relax with a refreshing glass of elderberry juice? You’re free to do that — no one is trying to stop you from guzzling it or peddling it — it’s just that it’s not very nice to fleece your fellow citizens with false claims that it will cure AIDs or someone’s anger problem.

  • Mary Rothschild

    Dear “Patriott”: Or why not just sit down and relax with a refreshing glass of elderberry juice? You’re free to do that — no one is trying to stop you from guzzling it or peddling it — it’s just that it’s not very nice to fleece your fellow citizens with false claims that it will cure AIDs or someone’s anger problem.

  • Doc Mudd

    “There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T.Bsrnum
    My, my the ‘believers’ certainly do get touchy when their flim-flam is exposed. Do you guys really subscribe to the magical, mystical healing powers of elderberry juice or are you just angry and embarrassed because you’ve been taken in by snakeoil salesmen and FDA is calling your bluff?
    Nothing wrong with drinking juice; it’s the believing you will be cured by it that’s whacked. And suggesting to gullible folks that they will be cured, why that’s just dishonest. And that’s why we need the FDA.

  • lg

    The FDA doing what is does best!! Protecting their clients, the Drug cartel!!!
    LOL, misguided people think it’s for their safety!!!!! Hahhaaaahhhhaaaahhhhaaaa!!!

  • Nice2See

    Lots of folklore- yes, but also plenty of current medical studies on Elderberry, because it works!
    Referred to as the `medicine chest` by Hippocrates, these berries have been researched and proven to contain many medicinal and health benefits. In 1995, Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama. Scientists even used these powerful berries to help treat AIDS and cancer.
    Actual Elderberry Studies: MEDICAL RESEARCH: Elderberry (Sambucol) WORKS WELL TO COMBAT THE FLU. PMID: 15080016 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE.
    A small study published five years ago showed that 93% of flu patients given Sambucol were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days.This current study shows that, indeed, it works for type A flu, reports lead researcher Erling Thom, with the University of Oslo in Norway.
    Just Fyi: the word QUACK has a historical meaning, comes from dentists using mercury (Quick Silver)in your teeth to speed things up, make more profit, while making you sick, was banned, then brought back, again because of profit.

  • Doc Mudd

    “Quack” — it isn’t just for dentists, anymore! (my sincere apologies to dentists)
    Shameless quack elderberry sales pitch preying on gullible sufferers. You go, FDA, purge these greedy SOBs from the 21st Century, just like you did a century ago.