Killer Supplements Have Got to Go
Posted by Rob Jenner on Apr 27, 2015 in Consumer Alerts
Contaminated, fraudulently labeled dietary supplements have killed people and will continue killing people until the industry is reeled in and held accountable.
An infant in Connecticut died last December after being given a well-known probiotic supplement that was later found to be contaminated with yeast. In 2013, 72 people in 16 states contracted hepatitis traced to a tainted weight loss/muscle building supplement. Three people required liver transplants, and one woman died. In 2012, the FDA reported 142 illnesses and 18 deaths linked to energy drinks classified as supplements.
Testing Reveals Supplements Often Don’t Contain the Ingredients Listed
How has this happened? Dietary supplements are not subject to FDA review before sale. The agency gets involved only after adverse reactions are reported. It’s basically an “honor system” that some supplement makers have grossly exploited.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is doing something about it. Several months ago he ordered genetic tests done on popular supplements sold by Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and GNC, including echinacea, ginseng, St. John’s wort, garlic, ginkgo biloba and saw palmetto.
Four out of five of these supplements did not contain any of the ingredients listed on the label.
Instead, they contained fillers like rice, wheat and “house plant.” Even some of the supplements labeled as “wheat and gluten free” contained wheat.
The brand names tested were: Herbal Plus, Up & Up, Finest Nutrition, and Spring Valley.
Check out the test results.
Getting Dangerous Supplements Off the Shelves
The fraudulent products have been ordered off the market in New York. Walgreens pulled them nationwide. Schneiderman now has taken the fight to the manufacturers themselves, ordering them to produce evidence of how they test their products for quality, where and how they obtain their original ingredients, and any information they have about adverse reactions to their products.
Supplement makers and even some consumer groups are arguing that DNA testing without additional chemical analysis is inadequate proof of what is or isn’t in a particular supplement. However, other studies done in Canada have shown up to one-third of supplements sold in that country are tainted or mislabeled. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and it’s gotten out of control.
It is high time supplement makers were required to back up their labels and show proof that their products are safe.
If you are shopping for supplements at a Walmart, Target, Walgreens, or GNC and spot any of the supplements that the New York tests have found to be questionable, alert the store manager and call the store’s national consumer complaint hotline.
Supplemental Test Results
Gingko Biloba No gingko biloba found (Found garlic, rice and mung/French bean)
St. John’s Wort No St. John’s Wort found (Found garlic, rice and dracaena (houseplant)
Garlic Contained garlic (One test identified no DNA)
Echinacea Most but not all tests detected Echinacea (One test identified rice)
Saw Palmetto Most tests detected saw palmetto (Some tests found no plant DNA)
Valerian Root No valerian root found (Found allium, bean, asparagus, pea family, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto)
Gingko Biloba> No gingko biloba found (Did detect rice)
St. John’s Wort No St. John’s Wort found (Detected garlic, rice and dracaena)
Ginseng No ginseng found (Detected garlic and rice)
Garlic No garlic found (Detected palm, dracaena, wheat and rice)
Echinacea No echinacea found (Identified garlic, rice and daisy)
Saw Palmetto Contained saw palmetto
Gingko Biloba No gingko biloba found (Found rice, dracaena, mustard, wheat and radish)
St. John’s Wort No St. John’s Wort found (Detected garlic, rice and cassava)
Ginseng No ginseng found (Found rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus)
Garlic One sample showed small amounts of garlic (Found rice, pine, palm, dracaena and wheat)
Echinacea No echinacea or plant material found
Saw Palmetto Some samples contained small amounts of saw palmetto (Also found garlic and rice)