AG Investigation Indicates Herbal Supplement Products Don’t Contain Ingredient on Label

By on February 3, 2015

An investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s Office into nutrition supplements sold at major retailers resulted in the agency sending letter to GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens, instructing the stores to immediately discontinue sales of certain store brand products including Echinacea, Ginseng and St. John’s Wort.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged that the retailers were selling products that purported to contain supplements ingredients as claimed on product labels, but testing revealed that those substances were not present.  Additionally, in certain instances, the products contained substances which were not listed on labels, including common allergens.

Schneiderman also requested that the retailers provide a comprehensive description of relevant quality control procedures along with detailed information pertaining to the production, processing and testing of herbal supplements sold at their stores.

The DNA testing performed on the sample retail supplements revealed that 79% of the products contained zero DNA of the purported active ingredient, and/or were contaminated with plant substances unrelated to the product.  Walmart products yielded the worst results with only 4% of its supplements showing DNA evidence of the purported substance.

“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.  “The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry.  Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients.  At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health.”

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