News outlets such as ABC News, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are gobbling up the latest exposé on store-brand supplements sold at four major retail chains: GNC, Wal-mart, Target, and Walgreens. An investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office revealed that these brands seldom contain the actual herbs that they claim on their labels. Furthermore, they’re often chock-full of potential allergenic fillers, such as wheat and beans, without any indication on the ingredients list.
According to RT the investigation has prompted “four cease-and-desist letters to the retailers calling on them to halt sales of seven dietary supplements, including echinacea, garlic, gingko biloba, ginseng, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort, and valerian root.”
New York General Attorney Eric Schneiderman, was so bold as to tweet directly to the major retailers to ask them to stop production of these questionable, and potentially harmful, supplements.
An article from the Washington Post explains that the investigation was conducted through a process known as DNA barcoding, in which ingredients are identified by their genetic makeup. Of the 24 products tested, “all but five of the products contained DNA that was either unrecognizable or from a plant other than what the product claimed to be.” Of these 24 products, five of them contained wheat and/or beans, which are common allergens for many people.
The obvious devastation here is that, once again, industries have been able to pull the wool over consumer eyes, so to speak. How long this deceitful practice has gone on is unknown, and the millions of people that these products may have reached could have serious inadvertent health effects on individuals who are clearly aiming to be health-conscious. I know that my severe reactions to wheat consumption could have left me hospitalized through repetitive consumption of these contaminated supplements.
The infraction committed by GNC is quite possibly the most offensive. The very existence of that company is to provide quality dietary supplements—how could they mess that up so royally? Although the tests conducted by the New York attorney general’s office must undergo further verification, this initial blow against the industry is a critical one. Consumers have been made aware and it’s now up to them to hold businesses accountable.
A company that I have and will forever trust is MOM's Organic Market, a local gem based out of Rockville, MD. They sell affordable and quality supplements that are held to rigorous standards. If you’ve been affected by the recent exposé on shady supplements, try switching to this trustworthy brand, or any other brands that they carry.
*photo from smartypantsvitamins.com