Thursday, July 15, 2010
Blame it on Lindsay Lohan.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but health food store owners have been pulling their kombucha stocks after speculation the actress’ recent brush with the law came about because her court-ordered SCRAM ankle bracelet – which monitors the alcohol content in her sweat – was set off by her indulgence in the fizzy fermentation.
On June 23, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau announced it will coordinate with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test questionable products.
The worry? While kombucha’s labels tout health benefits, they may not accurately represent alcohol content. The light fermentation and bacteria produce trace amounts of alcohol below the legal limit of 0.5 percent allowed in products not officially classified as alcoholic beverages. But as the product sits on shelf, it may continue fermenting, upping its alcohol content.
Whole Foods, a major kombucha distributor, pulled the product a few weeks ago due to the alcohol concerns.
“It’s not a food issue or a safety standards issue, but a labeling issue,” says Kelli Takikawa, store team leader at Monterey Whole Foods. “It’s been really hard not having it in the store. Everybody really misses it.”
Other stores, such as Grove Nutrition Center in Pacific Grove, have not been able to stock the beverage because suppliers have stopped selling it.
Acme Roasting Company in Seaside stocks smaller bottles of kombucha. Co-owner Larry Thurman says he may not have a choice but to stop selling it: His supplier, Rejuvenation Company, is unable to say when stock will return.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what the other stores are doing,” he says. “But we’ll probably run out in the next few days.”