Four major American retailers have been accused of selling fake and “potentially dangerous” health supplements to their customers, reported The New York Times. The accusations were made by the New York state attorney general’s office.
In light of the accusations, the New York AG has ordered GNC, Walmart, Target, and Walgreens to immediately remove the fake and mislabeled products from its shelves. The products were found to be fakes after authorities conducted tests that showed many of the “herbal supplement” tablets didn’t contain any of the herbs that labels had claimed.
“Unfortunately, companies sometimes fail to properly warn of the risks in order to market to a greater number of individuals for a higher profit,” commented Megan McBride, a product liability lawyer with the Levin, Papantonio law firm.”
For instance, the attorney general’s office found that Walmart’s ginseng pills actually contained only powdered garlic and rice. What was sold as ginkgo biloba was actually powdered radish, generic houseplants, and wheat. The NYT also noted that the gingko biloba label claimed to contain no gluten or wheat. Some of this blatant mislabeling proved to be potentially dangerous for consumers.
GNC, one of the nation’s leading nutrition retailers, sold products with unlisted ingredients used as fillers. However, these fillers included powdered legumes, like peanuts. Peanut consumption can be deadly for people who are allergic to them, but GNC still sold a product where peanuts were unlisted.
“Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal,” said New York state attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman. “They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families – especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients.”
The companies have responded by removing the products from their shelves and saying that “appropriate action” will be taken, the usual jargon when companies get caught breaking the law. How did this happen in the first place?
Herbal and dietary supplements are not subject to the same FDA regulations as pharmaceutical drugs. There are no trials, no pre-market testing, and no approval process. This is all thanks to Sen. Orrin Hatch, who’s paid handsomely by the supplement industry. Lobbied by the industry, Hatch fought tooth and nail to keep supplements unregulated by the FDA. He won the fight; now look at the aftermath.
These retailers and supplements manufacturers are blatantly lying to their customers by selling them mislabeled and outright dangerous products. Big money spoke, and created a retail industry mess.