Two US supplement companies share their food fraud stories
Supplements are supposed to be good for you, but two major brands in the USA have recently gone public over their challenges with counterfeits… and the counterfeits are not at all healthy.
Some of the counterfeit products contained plain rice flour instead of the labelled active ingredients. Some contained undeclared allergens like gluten and soy. One even contained traces of a scheduled pharmaceutical.
The brands NOW Foods and Fungi Perfecti recently went public about their discoveries of unauthorised copies (‘counterfeits’) of their products on Amazon, the online store platform. A third leading brand is said to also be affected.
The NOW Foods counterfeits were discovered after the brand owner received information from loyal consumers who noticed problems with products they had bought online and realised their purchases were not genuine.
One consumer reported that the product did not have the correct smell, colour or capsule size. The company has released images to educate consumers about how to identify genuine and fake versions of their products. Their vice president of global sales and marketing says the brand has experienced significant problems with counterfeits internationally for “years” and says the company is “looking into” anti-fraud measures.
Amazon reported that the fake NOW Foods products had originated in Kenya and contacted consumers who had purchased the product, telling them to throw it away and issuing refunds. Together, the brand owner, Amazon and the Department of Homeland Security plan to pursue and prosecute the supplier.
NOW Foods explains how to spot a fake on their website.
The Fungi Perfecti counterfeits were discovered by the brand owner, which continuously monitors its sales channels to protect its brand. During recent monitoring, the company discovered packages with “irregularities” in one Amazon store and went on to find 23 separate Amazon storefronts all selling counterfeit versions of its products.
Adulterants and allergens
One counterfeited NOW Foods product was labelled as a herbal supplement but turned out to be simply capsules of plain rice flour.
When Fungi Perfecti tested their ‘fake’ products they were alarmed to learn that they all contained the allergens gluten and soy, while the genuine products do not.
Amazon has notified the Fungi Perfecti (fakes) purchasers and removed the products from their site. The brand owner has published the names of the storefronts that were selling counterfeit versions of their products and issued an allergen warning on their website.
Like NOW Foods, they also published images and descriptions showing consumers how to identify counterfeits, as well as a list of authorised sellers of their genuine products.
Amazon reportedly removed 6 million counterfeit items from its online sales platform in 2022, including food, fashion and electronics.