Following the arrival of the drink on the shelves of some major French supermarkets in June including Intermarché and Leclerc, Outox has attracted plenty of media and regulatory attention.
A complaint from the DGCCRF, the Government agency for consumer affairs, prompted the French food safety authorities to launch an investigation into the drink.
The Agency, ANSES, focused on the claims that Outox speeds up the lowering of blood alcohol levels and alleviates some of the harmful effects of heavy drinking.
The makers of Outox had alleged that the high levels of fructose and vitamin C in the drink accelerate the lowering of blood alcohol levels, and ultimately prevent hangovers.
Evaluating the science
The company presented ANSES with an independent study it had commissioned on the drink but the French authorities were not convinced by the evidence. ANSES said the composition of the product was not specified and the methodology was flawed.
Furthermore, the results were judged to be inconclusive as the reductions in blood alcohol levels observed were too low and variable from one person to another.
Along with the study, ANSES also considered the body of existing scientific data on the effects of vitamin C and fructose on blood alcohol.
This research did little to persuade the agency of the validity of the Outox claims. It said the studies were conducted using highly diverse protocols and often with a limited number of subject who were not especially representative of the population as a whole.
The agency concluded: “ANSES considers that the claim regarding the product’s ability to reduce blood alcohol levels is scientifically unfounded and therefore unacceptable.”
It added that the Outox claims could even be damaging when public health authorities are working to raise awareness about the pitfalls of alcohol abuse. “Within the context of risk prevention related to alcohol consumption, a claim mentioning a reduction in blood alcohol levels presents a risk that is likely to give consumers a false sense of security.”
The opinion from ANSES could prove fatal for the Outbox drink which has already been removed from supermarket shelves.