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Attorneys General Join Schneiderman to Investigate Herbal Supplements

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is teaming up with attorneys general from Connecticut, Indiana and Puerto Rico to investigate the herbal supplement industry.

Schneiderman on Tuesday announced the formation of an attorneys general coalition to ensure the herbal supplement industry is validating their marketing claims. Last month, he announced the results of DNA testing that found a number of supplements failed to contain the labeled herbs and were contaminated.

“New Yorkers and consumers nationwide deserve confidence that when an herbal supplement is represented as authentic, pure, and natural, it really is," Schneiderman said in a statement accompanying a press release announcing the coalition. “Clearly, the questions we raised about the herbal supplements sold in New York resonate outside of our borders."

Supplement executives and even academics who are skeptical of some natural products have criticized the testing methodology that Schneiderman’s office relied on, noting DNA barcoding may fail to reveal botanical extracts and doesn’t quantify the percentage of materials that were identified as contaminants and fillers. The United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) has collected samples of the products that were the subject of Schneiderman’s probe in order to test them through a number of laboratories.

“The NY Attorney General’s office continues to ignore the scientific facts of his investigation, as well as the fact that botanical supplements are already properly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration," said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), in a statement. “It’s ironic that he continues to call for transparency, when his office refuses to release its test results and methodology, which scientists familiar with botanicals and DNA testing say is inaccurate."

The attorneys general who have joined Schneiderman said his recent findings were concerning.

“The findings uncovered by Attorney General Schneiderman raise serious public health and consumer protection concerns potentially impacting consumers in Connecticut and across the country," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement.

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