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New Durbin Bill Goes After Supplements

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is again going after what he perceives to be weakly regulated dietary supplements by introducing a new bill this week that would require all supplements to be registered with FDA along with their labels and ingredients, require new cautions on labels, and require FDA to define what is a conventional food and what is a dietary supplement. The bill is called the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act. Click here to read the press release on Sen. Durbin's website. In the announcement, he specifically mentions products including Rockstar Energy Drink, 5-Hour Energy, and Drank.

We are discussing this important development in the SupplySide Community, and invite you to check it out and participate.

This falls in line with past efforts by Sen. Durbin to put more requirements on dietary supplements in order to protect consumers. Michael McGuffin of American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) commented that this appears to be an attempt to propose legislative solutions in area that simply requires regulatory enforcement. Under current law, dietary supplements cannot be represented as conventional foods. Dietary supplements are also required to include all material information, including safety information, on their labels. The bill also requires all products to include a "batch number" on the label, even thought it is already standard industry practive to put lot numbers on products.

It seems to me that Sen. Durbin just could not resist the opportunity to introduce some kind of legislation to try to capitalize on the situation with Drank and recent publicity on energy drinks. I agree that the Drank product is a bad idea, much like the Lazy Cakes melatonin brownies. But, FDA can already go after these products. Clearly the brownies are being sold as a conventional food, and they contain melatonin, which is not a legal food ingredient. No new laws are needed to address this. Ditto with the Drank product. It clearly is being marketed as a beverage, even though it has a "Supplement Facts" panel on it. Current law prohibits this.

If Sen. Durbin stays true to his previous attempts to go after dietary supplements, we can expect to see him speaking about these "dangerous and unregulated" products on the Senate floor soon. Stay tuned.

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