In the February 2015 Mid-Monthly Advocate
issue, I wrote about the New York State Attorney General’s Office
crackdown on four major chains (GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens).
The stores were selling herbal supplements that contained very little
of the stated ingredients listed on the labels and that included
contaminants. The testing occurred in the brand named stores
throughout New York State.
Holding announced that it had restocked some of the herbal supplements
to their stores in New York after they reached an agreement with the
New York Attorney General and complied and corrected the problems.
Furthermore, GNC agreed that they would adopt testing standards in the
6,000 stores nationwide that would exceed requirements that the Food
and Drug Administration requires—this is a first for a major herbal
supplement chain in the United States.
Additionally, GNC committed to the following best practices:
Authentication: Within 18 months GNC will implement DNA barcoding to confirm the plant’s authenticity.
Broad Testing for Contaminants: GNC will test for the eight most common allergens before and after production.
Consumer transparency: GNC
will prominently display signs in their stores and on their website
with relevant information about the herbs and supplements including
extracts, chemicals, and solvents used and explain the different
processes. GNC will list all ingredients on its product labels, per
existing FDA rules.
Reporting: GNC will provide semiannual reports to the Attorney General’s Office, detailing the above information.
In related news, 13 state attorneys have
asked the U.S. Congress to investigate the herbal supplement industry
based on the NY General’s Office investigation. The state attorneys are
considering giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more
oversight over herbal supplements. However, it has been previously
reported that the FDA is considerably underfunded already. The
question of undertaking a massive job of regulating herbal supplements
would need a large funding package attached to any herbal regulation
Regarding GNC—this is excellent progress. However, where are the
agreements with Target, Walmart, and Walgreens? Hopefully, the other
stores will soon agree to the same terms as GNC. If you want to know
the potential harm of these herbs, check out the original article—it will make you think twice before buying any herbs or supplements unless there is some type of comprehensive oversight.