New York AG: Many Popular Store-Brand Supplements Are Phony
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going after four major retailers - GNC, Walmart, Target and Walgreens - for selling store-brand supplements that are mislabeled and contaminated.
Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to the companies, ordering them to stop selling the products, like Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and other commonly purchased supplements.
He explained that in many cases, tests on the products showed they did not contain the advertised ingredient or contained ingredients not printed on the label.
Schneiderman demanded the companies provide information on how the supplements are made.
He said the tests confirmed long-standing questions about the industry, which is not subject to the FDA approval process.
Overall, DNA tests ordered by the attorney general’s office showed that 79% of these supplements at select New York stores either don’t contain the key ingredient, or are contaminated with other materials.
Wal-Mart fared the worst, with only 4% of its products containing the plant listed, according to Mr. Schneiderman.
“Based on this notice, we are immediately reaching out to the suppliers of these products to learn more information and will take appropriate action,” a representative from Wal-Mart said.
At Target, 41% of the supplements had the ingredient advertised, compared with 22% at GNC and 18% at Walgreens.
At GNC, only garlic consistently turned out to be as advertised.
Although GNC has complied by removing the products named in Mr. Schneider’s letters, a representative said it stands behind its supplements and his methodology of testing may not be appropriate.
At Target, many of the supplements were contaminated with French bean, asparagus, and peas or, at Walgreens, daisy and rice. The DNA tests are part of a continuing investigation from the attorney general’s office.
Representatives from Target and Walgreen weren’t immediately available for comment.
Jon Scott discussed the new legal action this afternoon with Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl and former prosecutor Doug Burns.
Both emphasized that the industry is unregulated, but Wiehl said it's still fraud for a company to sell a supplement containing things that are not on the label.
She said Schneiderman is going to investigate whether the corporations knew these products were mislabeled.
Scott asked whether Walmart, for example, is responsible for verifying that the supplier of the supplements is correctly labeling the products.
Both said the company's liability would come down to whether it actually knew that the products were being mislabeled by the manufacturers.
Watch the segment above.