Dispatches from FIE 2011

Cranberry claim winner tells Ocean Spray: “Stay in your bogs”

By Shane Starling from Paris

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ocean spray Cranberry

Cranberry claim winner tells Ocean Spray: “Stay in your bogs”
Last week global cranberry leader, Ocean Spray, announced it was working on settling the long-running and divisive debate about how best to measure the berry’s active constituents – but the move has not been welcomed by the man who won the world’s first-ever cranberry health claim.

Gunter Haesaerts , the CEO and owner of French cranberry supplement manufacturer, Pharmatoka, said that Ocean Spray’s attempt at establishing an industry-wide standard for measuring proanthocyanidins (PACs), may have destabilising market consequences.

“Ocean Spray should stay in the bogs and not interfere with the work of nutraceutical specialists,” ​an outraged Haesaerts told this publication at the Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) trade show in Paris last week of Ocean Spray’s intention to establish a version of the DMAC PACs measurement system within 12 months.

Opening fire

“Ocean Spray deliberately opened fire with their unwarranted press release during FIE announcing that they would settle the PAC debate in 6-12 months,”​ he said, adding, “Ocean Spray is not in a position to settle this debate at all.”

Haesaerts said the BL-DMAC /A2 method was the most appropriate even if it was limited to the kind of PACs it can measure accurately (known as A2 PACs). There are other ways of measuring PACs such as the European Pharmacopeia method, and the often significant differences in results has caused much friction in the industry fueled by over or under measurement accusations.

But in France, the country where the claim linking cranberry and urinary tract health was validated in 2004, the BL-DMAC /A2 method has been referenced by a government agency there, if not officially validated as an industry standard.


Haesaerts said that move had leant the market an element of stability that Ocean Spray’s collaboration with Complete Phytochemical Solutions jeopardised.

Ocean Spray’s suggestion that it would develop a, “more appropriate standard than the A2 standard is not only premature, but it does not address the global issue of cranberry PACs characterisation.”

“Hence the motives behind this move are highly questionable. The impact of this publication already causes renewed debates and questions about the method and this can only be counterproductive for the emerging 36mg PAC/day food supplements markets.”

Haesaerts said an international “optimised cranberry standard”​ needed to be developed to replace the A2 methody, but it would take, “3-5 years”​ to achieve.

“The entire developmental process, in order to be coherent and promote further development of efficacious cranberry based food supplements will require 3 to 5 years,”​ he said.

“With all due respect for Ocean Spray’s role as leaders of the cranberry industry they have refused to publish and promote the PAC quantitation DMAC methods they originally pioneered. They also refused to assist when the BL-DMAC initiative was launched in 2008."

“Only constructive and coordinated cooperation between various disciplines and specialists can accelerate the indispensable drive to develop more efficacious cranberry food supplements.”

See Ocean Spray's Tom Jones announcing the collaboration here​.

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1 comment


Posted by Maria Monagas,

Our research group has analyzed a total of 20 different cranberry products from USA and European Markets by different global phenolic determinations (But-HCl, DMAC) and individual measurement (UPLC/MS-MS). We have concluded that products meeting the 36 mg/g PAC were actually composed of 0.00-205ug/g of procyanidin A2, indicating the lack of product standardization and incongruence between global and individual compound analysis.
Therefore, if A-type PACs are considered the active ingredients in cranberry products for sustaining beneficial claims against UTI, a total PAC measurement either by the Butanol/HCl or by the DMAC methods is not specific enough to sustain the claim of the recommended dose of intake of 36mg total PAC/day. We only reccommend the use of the DMAC method as a quality control measurement after correct characterization of the PAC composition. Nevertheless, it is also important to emphasized that some nutraceuticals companies are making a great job in achiving a proper standarization and high quality products. This study has been recently submitted to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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