The supplement industry received a wakeup call last year, particularly in the USA, after the New York attorney general commenced legal proceedings against 13 supplements manufacturers alleging that the supplements did not contain exactly what they should have contained. The sampling and test methodology used to support the prosecution has been widely criticised, and the industry considers the results to be questionable at best. Nevertheless, the issue of authenticity and adulteration has received extra attention among producers and users of supplements since then.
Some examples of recent supplement frauds have involved grape seed extract adulterated with peanut skins. Ironically, grape seed extract has also been found to be an adulterant itself, with some cranberry products adulterated. Within the supplements investigated by the New York attorney general, valerian was found to contain garlic and wild carrot, echinacea was found to contain rice and buttercup DNA while St Johns wort was alleged to contain DNA from a species of ornamental house plant.
What’s being done? Well you won’t read about it in the press but there’s no question that large retailers, including those that were targeted by the New York attorney general, such as Walmart, Target, GNC and Walgreens, have reviewed and tightened up their purchasing contracts; supplement testing methodology has been reviewed and reputable supplement manufacturers are testing more of their ingredients more often. And that’s great news for consumers.