False Labels Found on Nearly 80 Percent of Brand Supplements

Just another reason you should be super selective if you choose to use any type of health supplement … Four of the largest stores consumers shop at have recently been found selling supplements that have incorrect and misleading labels. They’re now banned from selling their store brand supplements in the state of New York.

Walmart, Target, GNC and Walgreens all received cease and desist letters from The New York State attorney general with the news.


An ongoing investigation included the testing of a number of supplements that were supposed to contain plant based ingredients, like ginseng and echinacea. 79 percent of them have no trace of the plant DNA their labels claim. In some cases, the DNA was present but it wasn’t pure. It had been altered due to the presence of other ingredients that weren’t listed on the label at all.

GNC is apparently working with the state and will take proactive measures to better monitor what goes on the shelf. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging other retailers to do the same and put an emphasis on consumer safety.

“When it comes to consumer health, we expect companies to reach a high safety bar. Without tests and safeguards, including those that rule out dangerous allergens, these supplements pose unacceptable risks to New York families,” Schneiderman added.

Not All Supplements Created Equal

The problem is that health supplements aren’t tested and monitored closely like other drugs. The FDA doesn’t get involved at all and manufacturers don’t have any federally-imposed guidelines or requirements. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 made manufacturers the ones held responsible for the safety of their products and the labeling they use. That means the supplement you’re using may or may not be exactly what the label says. It may or may not be safe and it may or may not give you the results that are promised.


Protecting Your Health

Even the simplest, most natural ingredient can have potentially harmful effects if taken in large doses. Some people may also have allergic reactions. The very first thing you should do is talk to your doctor about any supplement you’re considering taking, especially if you take other medications.

While supplements aren’t FDA regulated, there are a couple of things that you can look for when shopping. First, look for a supplement that’s GMP certified (Good Manufacturing Practices) and secondly, one that has USP (U.S. Pharmacopoeia) on the label.

Veronica Davis is a former Marine, now a mom of two boys who has found a passion for freelance writing. She loves cooking and rarely misses something in the food industry, but she also enjoys writing about business, home and anything interesting.