Fraudulent? Dangerous? Common Herbal Supplements Fail Ingredient Verification

On Tuesday, New York state Attorney General Eric Scheiderman announced that multiple store-brand supplements were found to not include the ingredients listed on the label and many failed to include any botanical substances. Sheiderman has called for the halt of sale of herbal supplements that failed verification at GNC Holdings Inc., Target Corp, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. The products questioned include Echinacea, ginseng, St. John’s wort, garlic, ginkgo biloba, and saw palmetto. The products are considered fraudulent, as well as potentially dangerous.

Walgreen spokesman James Graham says,

We take these issues very seriously and as a precautionary measure, we are in the process of removing these products from our shelves as we review this matter further… We intend to cooperate and work with the attorney general.”

The medicinal herbs were found to contain cheap fillers including powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants.

However, the Council for Responsible Nutrition does not fully agree with the DNA testing method used by the General Attorney’s office, claiming the process is only useful for certain types of cases. In a statement on the association’s website, CRN says,

Supposed concerns about the products in question are based on a novel testing method that has been roundly criticized by botanical scientists who question whether DNA barcoding technology is an appropriate or validated test for determining the presence of herbal ingredients in finished botanical products. Processing during manufacturing of botanical supplements can remove or damage DNA; therefore while a DNA testing method can be useful in some cases, this method well may be the wrong test for these kinds of products.”

Despite the weaknesses of DNA testing, the supplements will still need to answer for the high levels of contaminants found in the products.

 

Read more here- “Your Supplement Might Be a Sham,” (Caitlin Huston, MarketWatch)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.

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