Walmart, Target, Walgreens and GNC all must stop selling herbal supplements that New York Attorney General’s office says are “adulterated” and “mislabeled.”
The products in question are all private label store-brand herbal supplements. And according to the AG’s office, the products don’t contain some of the stated ingredients or do contain contaminating filler materials that may cause allergic reactions, such as rice and wheat.
“Of late, the topic of purity (or lack thereof) in popular herbal dietary supplements has raised serious public health and safety concerns, and also caused this office to take steps to independently assess the validity of industry and advertising,” the letters stated.
“Contamination, substitution and falsely labeling herbal products constitute deceptive business practices and, more importantly, present considerable health risks for consumers.”
Food Safety News reports:
Tests were done at the request of the New York AG’s office on the following store-brand supplements: Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Echinacea, Valerian Root, Garlic and Saw Palmetto. Three to four samples of each supplement purchased in different parts of the state were tested. Each sample was tested five times, for a total of 390 tests on 78 samples.
Schneiderman said that only 4 percent of Walmart’s supplements (“Spring Valley” brand) actually contained the ingredients listed on the label, while 18 percent did at Walgreens (“Finest Nutrition” brand), 22 percent at GNC (“Herbal Plus” brand), and 41 percent at Target stores (“Up & Up” brand). Only the GNC garlic consistently tested as advertised, according to the AG’s office.
“Based on this notice, we are immediately reaching out to the suppliers of these products to learn more information and will take appropriate action,” a Walmart spokesperson said to Food Safety News. The chain says it is removing the product from all of its U.S. stores even though the complaint came from New York.
GNC, however, while removing the products to comply with the AG’s ruling, says that it stands behind its internal testing methods. An industry representative told Food Safety News that the testing used by the AG’s office is so new that it may have been getting inaccurate results.
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