Famous for her role as a former ‘Real Housewife’ and now for her own reality TV show on the Bravo Network, Bethenny Frankel has definitely made a name for herself. Nowadays, she is known for her Skinnygirl Margarita line which has said to be made with “all natural” ingredients, but Whole Foods begs to differ.
This week, Whole Foods suddenly pulled Frankel’s line from shelves as the chain argues the cocktails are not “all natural,” even though Frankel has marketed them as such.
A rep for Beam Global, which purchased Skinnygirl cocktails, told the New York Post the skinny margarita line contains “extremely low levels” of sodium benzoate. This widely used food preservative can be found in salad dressings, fruit drinks and carbonated beverages. In addition, have you ever heard that whistling sound when watching fireworks? Yep, that’s sodium benzoate.
Since Frankel did not inform Whole Foods of this chemical, it was pulled from shelves.
“This product had been offered in about a dozen of Whole Foods Market’s 310 stores. After discovering that it contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it,” a Whole Foods rep revealed to E! News in a written statement.
Frankel is constantly promoting healthy ingredients and eating natural products, not to mention her book ‘Naturally Thin.’ Even on her website she describes her cocktail line as containing “all natural ingredients, no preservatives or artificial colors.”
Are consumers being misled? Well Frankel released a statement to Access Hollywood giving her personal opinion. “Skinnygirl cocktails were created to solve a problem: to create a line of guilt-free cocktails allowing women to drink the indulgent drinks they actually want to drink with as few ingredients as possible,” she said. “I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible, while still being a shelf-stable product.”
The natural foods chef and reality starlet continued, “With all due respect to Whole Foods, we were in a dozen of their stores and have decided not to continue in these stores. They represent an infinitesimal fraction of our business. We are, in fact, the fastest growing spirits brand in the U.S. We were bound to piss someone off and everyone loves to try to tear down a success. This is a non-event. I haven’t lost even a wink of sleep.”
Last March, Frankel reportedly sold Skinnygirl to Fortune Brands’ Beam Global for $120 million. Will she continue to do well with the her cocktail line or will this controversy affect her brand?
Also, last month Frankel put out Skinnygirl Sangria, which is sold in a couple of Whole Foods’ stores, a rep told the New York Post. The store is waiting to look at the list of ingredients before deciding to yank it from the shelves.