Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers | HVVMG From New York Times
The New York State attorney general’s office accused four major retailers on Monday. They said they are selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. They demanded that they remove the products from their shelves.
The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers. It was GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart involved. They found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on the labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.
The investigation came as a welcome surprise to health experts who have long complained about the quality and safety of dietary supplements. They are exempt from the strict regulatory oversight applied to prescription drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration has targeted individual supplements found to contain dangerous ingredients. In Fact, the announcement Monday was the first time that a law enforcement agency had made such a claim. This was with legal action for selling what it said were deliberately misleading herbal products.
Among the attorney general’s findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice. At Walmart, the authorities found that its ginkgo biloba, a Chinese plant promoted as a memory enhancer, contained little more than powdered radish, houseplants, and wheat — despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat- and gluten-free.
Three out of six herbal products at Target — ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and valerian root, a sleep aid — tested negative for the herbs on their labels. But they did contain powdered rice, beans, peas, and wild carrots. At GNC, it found pills with unlisted ingredients used as fillers. Some like powdered legumes, the class of plants that includes peanuts and soybeans. This is a hazard for people with allergies.
The attorney general sent the four retailers cease-and-desist letters on Monday and demanded that they explain what procedures they use to verify the ingredients in their supplements.