Michelle Obama Juice Company Comes Under Fire

Earlier this year, Michelle Obama launched a brand of “health-conscious” beverages for kids that a dozen health professionals and organizations say could not be served in public schools under the health standards Mrs. Obama championed while first lady, Bloomberg reported.

In March, Obama announced the launch of Plezi Nutrition which she hailed as a low-sugar alternative beverage designed to steer children as young as six away from sugary drinks.

But Plezi’s first product on the market, a flavored juice blend, does not meet the criteria required to be served to American school children.

Bloomberg spoke with 12 health professionals and groups, most of whom were critical of Obama’s Plezi line of drinks. Plezi Nutrition refused to make Mrs. Obama available to Bloomberg.

Formally launched in April, Plezi’s products are currently available at Target and will be hitting shelves in most Walmart stores this summer.

According to the health experts who spoke to Bloomberg, while the Plezi beverages are an improvement to carbonated soft drinks, the improvement is a small one.

Under the school meal regulations enacted during the Obama administration at Michelle’s urging, elementary and middle schools are only permitted to serve water, milk, or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice that includes no added sweeteners. Based on those criteria, the four flavors currently available from Plezi do not meet the standard.

Several of the health professionals who spoke to Bloomberg described the Plezi beverages as “ultra-processed” food made largely from artificial additives or extracts of other foods. There have been multiple studies that found that overconsuming processed foods could lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or even death.

Marion Nestle, NYU’s emerita professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, described Mrs. Obama’s drinks as “standard-industry, ultra-processed” beverages that should not be marketed for children.

Jerold Mande, who formerly served as a senior advisor with the Obama Department of Agriculture’s food, nutrition, and consumer services, told Bloomberg that while Michelle Obama did more to improve child nutrition “than any other political leader,” she was “ill-served by advisors” to target children with “flashy, ultra-processed” beverages that are no healthier than diet soft drinks.