DUBAI // A fruit drink has been pulled from store shelves after breaching rules on alcohol content.

Two varieties of Snapple, a brand of iced teas and juices, was withdrawn from sale last week on the orders of Dubai Municipality.

A circular sent to shopkeepers and supermarkets stated that the “fruit punch mixed fruit drink” and “peach flavoured tea” contained 0.48 per cent and 0.05 per cent of alcohol respectively – above the 0.03 per cent limit.

The notice followed a “routine survey of food products on sale” and was issued to ensure “customer safety”. It demanded the product be withdrawn and returned to the supplier.

“The products in question were not authorised for distribution in the UAE because they did not meet Government requirements,” said Chris Barnes, director of corporate communications at Snapple.

“We fully support the Government’s decision to pull that product from the market.”

Six other Snapple flavours have been approved, including raspberry tea and pink lemonade.

Spinney’s in Khalidiyah in Abu Dhabi removed all flavours of the drink yesterday on the orders of their the head office. Management said concerns had been raised about the product.

Store staff were unsure if the drink would be brought back or if only the disputed flavours removed from sale.

Al Maya supermarkets in Dubai have done the same, withdrawing all Snapple products from the shelves. One store assistant said it had been deemed an “unfit product” by the municipality and every store around the UAE was told to withdraw all drinks.

Carrefour at the capital’s Marina Mall said they would continue to sell the product but only in four flavours. They were unaware of any problem with the product or legislation regarding its withdrawal.

Snapple’s Mr Barnes said that while two varieties of the drink exceeded the alcohol limits set by the UAE, “alcohol is present at very low levels in certain beverages as a component of other ingredients, such as flavours”. Under regulatory standards in the United States, the levels do not count as alcoholic.

“Flavoured beverages with traces of alcohol less than 0.5 per cent by volume from flavours, flavouring extracts or natural fermentation are considered non-alcoholic,” Mr Barnes said. “Alcohol is frequently used in flavour preparations, similar to the alcohol in vanilla extract used for home cooking. It does not have a function in the final product.

“Many fruits, fruit juices and other ingredients have levels of alcohol greater than this, present due to the ordinary process of fermentation of sugar.”

Snapple has only recently started distributing products in the UAE.

The two withdrawn varieties are not considered alcoholic products in the US and are approved by all regulatory authorities wherever they are sold.

Mr Barnes said the company was not aware of whether the product would be pulled off shelves entirely and was awaiting feedback from its distributor.

“We have an authorised distributor for the UAE, and they’re only selling the authorised products, as best as I can tell. We’re going to continue to reinforce and work with our distributor and support their efforts to ensure only the authorised products are on shelves in the UAE,” he said.
source: http://www.thenational.ae