By Dennis Sherer
Last Modified: Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 9:16 p.m.
MUSCLE SHOALS – With a new colorful label and concerns raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 15 years ago finally resolved, makers of Shoals-based Jogging in a Jug are predicting increased sales of the product billed as a dietary supplement.
“The future is going to be bright,” said Danny B. McWilliams Jr., chief executive officer of Third Option Laboratories, which distributes the fruit juice and cider-vinegar mixture throughout the United States.
The new label touts the product as Granddaddy Jack’s Jogging in a Jug, in reference to McWilliams’ grandfather Jack McWilliams, who began marketing the drink in 1990. The label identifies the drink as a nutritional dietary supplement.
“We think the new label is really going to help in our marketing efforts,” McWilliams said. “I’m proud of the new label. It’s going to help us stand out on the shelf from all the other juice products.”
Jogging in a Jug is sold in grocery stores and through mail order.
McWilliams said Third Option Laboratories, which is on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals, remains a family-run business with all its officers being family members.
While expressing his excitement about the new label, McWilliams admits he feared for the future of Jogging in the Jug in 1995 when it came under fire from the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission over the family’s claims the beverage provided the same health benefits as a jogging regimen, cleansed internal organs and cured or prevented some diseases.
McWilliams said the claims were based on testimonials from customers. “It was never our intention to mislead anyone,” he said.
As part of consent decrees with the federal agencies, Third Option Laboratories agreed to stop advertising the product as having health benefits and to pay $480,000 to the trade commission.
“I was scared to death,” he said. “The future of Jogging in a Jug was very uncertain. It was a very stressful time for our family. Anytime you are involved in a lawsuit with the federal government, it’s not any fun.”
Jack McWilliams said Jogging in a Jug sales plummeted after federal regulators announced the consent decrees, but have steadily rebounded in recent years. He said the company has sold more than 35 million 64-ounce bottles of Jogging in a Jug since 1990.
Danny McWilliams Jr.’s concerns about the company’s future have ended as has the consent decree with Food and Drug Administration. He said two years of discussions with federal officials led to the consent decree being terminated earlier this year. He said agency has deemed the company’s labels as being in full compliance with its rules.
A similar decree with the Federal Trade Commission remains in effect, but is scheduled to expire within five years.
As part of the 1995 settlements with federal regulators, a disclaimer on the Jogging in a Jug label states: “There is no scientific evidence that Jogging in a Jug provides any health benefits.” Another disclaimer states: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Danny McWilliams Jr. attributes Jogging in a Jug survival to a loyal base of consumers who use the product to supplement their diet.
“Our customers have kept the company going,” he said. “We have customers who have been using our product for 20 years and are extremely loyal to the Jogging in a Jug brand. We believe we have the best dietary supplement made and the loyalty of our customers supports our beliefs.”
Dennis Sherer can be reached at 256-740-5746 or dennis.sherer@TimesDaily.com.