Standard Process' Thoughts on New York Attorney General’s Action on Dietary Supplements
On February 2, the New York State Attorney General accused GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart of selling a number of store brand dietary supplements that were fraudulent and in many cases contained ingredients not listed on the labels. He demanded that the retailers remove the products from their shelves in the state of New York. The ‟New York Times” and many other major news outlets ran prominently placed stories about the action.
The cease-and-desist orders to stop selling the products are based on DNA barcoding testing conducted. Overall, the test results claimed to find that just 21 percent of the store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels – with 79 percent claimed to come up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.
The seven herbs tested were tablets claiming to contain extracts of: Ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea, valerian, and saw palmetto.
This news is alarming and has the potential to tarnish the reputation of not only the retailers involved, but also their private-label suppliers and all responsible companies selling herbal supplement products, including Standard Process and MediHerb.
Here are some key points we’d like you to consider about this issue:
- Standard Process believes that consumers deserve to have trust and confidence in the dietary supplement industry and be assured that their herbal supplements contain the herbs the labels say they contain. Standard Process chemists perform multiple assays to guarantee that our products meet label claims. For more than 85 years, Standard Process has produced high quality dietary supplements that our customers and their patients can rely on, and we are happy to have a quality partner like MediHerb for many years. Kerry Bone, expert herbal researcher and clinician, co-founded MediHerb out of his frustration in not finding quality herbal products for his patients. MediHerb products undergo rigorous quality measures at every important stage in the manufacturing process. The MediHerb adherence to its quality control analysis assures the identity and efficacy of the ingredients on the label. Please click here to see a description of this process.
As most practitioners and consumers are aware, price should not be the only factor when considering which supplements to purchase. The reputation of the supplier and their quality record are important considerations.
- Taking action based solely on DNA tests is wrong in this instance. Several botanical experts have stated that the New York Attorney General’s DNA-only testing method was inappropriate. The use of DNA barcoding technology for testing the identity of botanical dietary supplements is limited technology that has not been validated against already established technologies. Moreover, it has not been established that DNA testing is able to properly identify chemically complex herbal extracts as little or no DNA may be extracted intact in many commercial extraction processes. In other words, not all herbal extracts contain the herb’s DNA because they are extracts. Other tests are more accurate in ensuring the identity of herbal extracts in finished products.
Basing its actions on the basis of only one testing technology from only one laboratory, the New York Attorney General’s results are preliminary and require further substantiation and validation. Moreover, it appears that the New York Attorney General has not released the protocols and detailed records and results of this study, a glaring absence of transparency after taking legal action by letter and press release. You can find an article MediHerb Co-founder Kerry Bone wrote on DNA testing here.
- More information on this issue can be found at the American Botanical Council’s website here: http://cms.herbalgram.org/press/2015/ABCSaysNYAttyMisusedDNA.html?ts=1423152994&signature=3b16657d129e2e83c507ed18b7eae2f0 You can also read the following article published at NUTRA-usa.com: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/NY-AG-takes-on-GNC-Walgreens-Walmart-Target-on-herbal-supplements/?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=03-Feb-2015&c=%2BDGisBY2pXRtF%2FI2bLsgY%2Bplvk%2BxC3OJ
- A related New York Times article falsely stated that the supplement industry has no oversight, perpetuating the rumor that our industry is not regulated. As required by law, Standard Process follows the current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs) for dietary supplements published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).