NYT Investigation: Herbal Supplements Lack Primary Ingredients


A recent investigation by the New York State Attorney General has revealed that large retailers in America may be selling dangerous herbal supplements. They identified two problems with the supplements: they did not contain the ingredients that were listed and the ingredients that they did contain, were not listed.

In some cases, the ingredients that were not listed were allergens such as wheat that could harm those with allergies. Investigators examined the most popular and bestselling store brand supplements, including:

  • GNC
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Shockingly, they found that four out of five supplements did not contain any of the herbs listed, and many contained ingredients that were not listed such as rice, spruce, asparagus and houseplants.

The findings have caused an uproar among the millions of Americans who take supplements on a daily basis. The dietary supplement industry has long been at war with medical and health experts who have voiced complaints about the safety of herbal supplements as well as the accuracy of the ingredients that are listed.

Since 1994, supplements have not governed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Companies must verify that their supplements are safe and accurately labeled, however their verifications are never evaluated for accuracy.

There is no review or approval process in place for supplements. They are only recalled or addressed when dangerous side effects manifest themselves.

In light of its investigation, the Office of the Attorney General issued three cease-and-desist letters and sent them to Target, Walgreens and GNC asking the retailers their process for verifying the ingredients in the supplements that they sell.

There are more than 60,000 dietary supplements currently on the market, and 150 million Americans or nearly 1 in 2 Americans consumers purchase these supplements. Supplements have injured Americans before, and in 2013 more than 70 individuals contracted hepatitis after a tainted supplement was identified across 16 states.

After the New York Times published the claims about fraud, the herbal supplement industry responded by saying that DNA testing was insufficient to identifying the contents of the supplements.

They are arguing that the DNA tests conducted by the attorney general are not the proper method to validate the ingredients in the supplements. Thus far, the New York State Attorney Generals office is standing behind their tests.

U.S. sales of supplements exceed $6 billion each year so there is a lot at stake for these companies.

At Arnold Law Firm, we routinely tangle with large pharmaceutical organizations. If you or someone you love has been injured, contact a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento at our law firm today.

Call (916) 777-7777 or use the Free Case Evaluation form