NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Major players in the supplement and vitamin industry are in trouble for allegedly mislabeling, contamination and false advertising. Now, local families are worried about unacceptable health risks.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is accusing four major retailers of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. He is demanding they be removed from store shelves.
“Mislabeled supplements that are taken by the public to preserve or maintain their health pose a significant danger to those who have food allergies or who take medication,” Schneiderman said.
He said popular store brands labeled as medicinal herbs were checked for DNA genetic fingerprinting from Walmart, GNC, Walgreens, Target– and they flunked.
Glenn Murawski of Levittown wonders if he can trust his supplements.
“It’s fraud. It’s basically consumer fraud,” he said.
If the data is accurate, Nicole Polizzi of Massapequa calls it an indictment of an industry she relies on.
“I’m outraged. Why would they do that to the American public?” she asked.
Target has not yet responded, CBS2’s Jennifer McLOgan reported. Walgreens said it will remove products from shelves nationwide and Walmart will reach out to suppliers to take immediate action. GNC said it will cooperate in all appropriate ways, but stands by its supplements.
Among tested store brand pills that allegedly came up bogus: ginseng, touted for medical endurance, was found to be little more than ground garlic and rice. Ginko biloba, promoted as a Chinese plant memory enhancer, was reportedly powdered radish and wheat; St. John’s wort: cheap houseplant fillers; Valerian root: powdered peas and beans.
“It is a largely unregulated industry and as a result, it is very difficult to feel confident that what you are taking is what you intend to be taking,” Dr. Kenneth Spaeth said.
Currently, supplements are exempt from the FDA’s strict approval process and essentially operate on the honor code.