Harsha Chigurupati is making some big claims. This shouldn’t be that surprising however; especially when you consider who he is.
The claim is to have distilled and infused a vodka that is actually liver-friendly. And who he is, is a young entrepreneur and member of the family who owns Granules India, a pharmaceutical giant. Suddenly this claim doesn’t seem so farfetched, or at the very least, worth investigating a little further.
You might be asking yourself, “people make claims and allegations all the time, what’s any different about this?” Simple – he wants to put the health benefits on the bottle.
“We’re earned the right to let everybody in the world know about this,” Chigurupati said back in April when he announced he would be petitioning for his brand Bellion Vodka to make health benefits claims for the drink.
How does this “healthy” vodka work you might be ask? According to Chigurupati, he and his team found a new technology that infuses vodka with their proprietary blend of additives that make it so the body can break down alcohol easier and reduce stress on the liver.
In order to test this, researchers conducted a small (very small) study of 12 participants; half drank normal vodka, the rest Bellion. The participants all drank until they reach a blood alcohol level of 0.12.
The researchers concluded that consuming the alcohol with the additives—glycyrrhizin, derived from licorice; D-mannitol, a sugar alcohol; and potassium sorbate, to name a few—may support improved liver health as opposed to drinking alcohol alone.
Needless to say; there are many skeptics.
“It’s a positive preliminary study but certainly does not provide a firm basis for speculating about long-term impact,” says Marsha Bates, a distinguished research professor and director of the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University.
So where does that leave Chigurupati now? Currently his Vodka is being sold in 11 states, but without any health labeling or benefits mentioned. Which has led him to petition the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which oversees all labels of the aforementioned; and the Food and Drug Administration, which handles all health claims.
So what exactly does he want on the label? Chigurupati is seeking approval to make the claim that his blend, known as NTX for “No Tox,” provides “antioxidant and inflammatory support” and “reduces the risk of alcohol-induced liver diseases,” among a few others.
Will he be successful? If he is, he will be the first – which will probably have quite a few red wine makers very, very mad at him.