On Monday, the NY Times reported that the New York Attorney General’s office had accused four major retailers (Walgreen’s Wal-Mart, Target and GNC) of having adulterated and useless (or potentially harmful) products on their shelves. The paper of record reported that “The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.”
This could be attributed to what many in the natural products industry had already believed – that the products carried under the brand of big box retailers like Wal-Mart might be less than stellar quality. The unfortunate reality might also be that this could have negative ramifications for other companies as well.
Today the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) responded publicly to the charges from the NY State Attorney’s office by saying “the New York State Attorney General used an inadequate and unproven analytical method to test herbal supplement products at the core of the State’s allegations that several retailers are selling adulterated and/or mislabeled herbal dietary supplements. The results of this analysis, therefore, cannot be considered valid. According to AHPA Chief Science Officer Maged Sharaf, Ph.D., the New York State Attorney General and the laboratory that conducted the analysis relied on an analytical technology that does not have the capacity to reach the degree of certainty represented by the State in its accusations.”
While this is clearly an evolving case, it underscores the need for consumers to support high quality natural products supplements that use the kind of rigors in keeping with GMP. Read more about AHPA’s response here.