GNC, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens accused of selling tainted ‘herbals’

GNC, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens accused of selling tainted ‘herbals’

Unorthodox drugs always have those warning stipulations attached, giving you the side effects of the worst case scenario of using said remedy.

GNC, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens went so far as to hide the ingredients in their herbal supplements, according to an investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office into store-brand supplements at the four national retailers.

So while those store-brand pills may contain undocumented mustard, wheat, radish and other substances decidedly non-herbal in nature, it’s unlikely to have the substance you’re looking for in the supplement.

herbal2All four major companies have received cease-and-desist letters to immediately stop selling the products, many of which included potential allergens not identified on the ingredients list.

“Contamination, substitution and falsely labeling herbal products constitute deceptive business practices and, more importantly, present considerable health risks for consumers,” said the letters, first reported today by the New York Times.

Investigators used ‘DNA barcoding’, singling out ingredients through ‘genetic fingerprinting.’ They tested 24 products claiming to be seven different types of herb — echinacea, garlic, gingko biloba, ginseng, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort and valerian root. Only five products didn’t contain unknown elements, and was actually composed of the herb advertised.

Of the four retailers, Wal-Mart was the most ruthless: none of its six supplements that were tested was found to contain the ingredient advertised. Target’s products were the least misleading – though that was only one out of six.

This should expose the shady dietary supplement industry. Since supplements are not considered food or drugs, they’ve always been lightly regulated. Federal guidelines do require companies to accurately label their food, though the FDA has almost no power to enforce these rules.

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