Fed officials arrest Texas supplement maker executives

The supplement industry in America is worth a whopping $15 billion. But that figure did not stop federal officials from swooping in to arrest six executives of a Texas supplement manufacturer.

USPLabs was indicted by the federal government. The charges claim that USPLab is lying when it says that its most popular supplements are made from natural ingredients.

A similar indictment was passed down to Bethel Nutritional Consult Inc. Similar civil charges were also filed against many small supplement companies. The total sweep included 117 different manufacturers or companies.

The supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA. As a result, some less-than-honest offshoots of the mainstream industry do not play by FDA rules. While a supplement like Edge Bioactives does conform to FDA rules, others allegedly make false claims about the efficacy of the products. Others misrepresent ingredients used in supplements.

supplement bottles
Supplements not regulated by FDA.

The Justice Department says that most of the recent cases are in relation to the misrepresentation supplement ingredients.

Bethel Nutritional Consulting, Inc. stands accused of including prescription drugs in its supplements. The company claims that the ingredients in the product are natural.

It is not clear whether these arrests and indictments will lead to convictions. It is also not clear whether any convictions would lead to industry reform. Some suggest that the industry needs oversight. At the moment, the FDA can issue warnings about supplements or ingredients. But it cannot prevent these products from entering the market.

Two years ago, the FDA released a warning regarding DMAA. DMAA is an ingredient in Jack3d, a product sold by USPLabs. The warning was issued after reports of adverse effects, including death, from those who took the supplement.

The FDA can condemn the ingredients or claims that sell supplements by the billions. But the agency cannot ban them.

The FDA has no control over pre-market testing. This is because of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. The act exempts these dietary supplements from FDA oversight.

The recent arrests may not lead to jail time. But it is possible that there may be a new discussion about whether the industry could be supplemented with revamped regulation.

Khuram Aziz
Khurram Aziz is a freelance writer based out of London, England.