New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has declared that a failure in proper government supervision of supplements currently on the market may pose serious public health issues. The AG pointed to a 2013 hepatitis outbreak most likely caused by a tainted diet supplement, and then to the death of a baby in Connecticut from a probiotic supplement that was contaminated with yeast.
Last week, Schneiderman took store-brand herbal supplements that failed DNA tests off the shelves at Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, Target and GNC.
Now the dietary supplement industry claims current DNA testing method is inadequate. They point out that, for instance, it can’t detect contamination of heavy metals and chemical adulterants, which are far more dangerous than, say, yeast.
“There’s no problem with DNA barcoding as a science; however, it should be used appropriately. It has limitations, ” Nandakumara Sarma, director of dietary supplements for US Pharmacopeia, which sets quality standards and testing protocols for drugs, vitamins and supplements, told AP.
The trade group United Natural Products Alliance is also fighting back. It decided to send its people out around the country to buy large quantities of the supplements Schneiderman has taken down. They plan to submit them to several certified testing labs for analysis.
“They will perform universally accepted methods and procedures to test the products and will independently report their findings, which will be made public, ” said UNPA president Loren Israelsen. “We feel the most appropriate response to bad science is good science.”
And Mark Blumenthal, founder and director of American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas, criticized the science behind the AG’s decision.
“We raised the question if any of these products are extracts, and if so, what other analytical technologies were used to help ensure the validity of the results obtained by DNA testing, ” he told AP.