"Siberian Ginseng" Draws FTC Attention

March 26, 2001

2 Min Read
"Siberian Ginseng" Draws FTC Attention

SILVER SPRING, Md. --The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) sent out an alert to members on March 19 as a reminder to not label Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim)--or eleuthero--as Siberian ginseng. AHPA noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received numerous complaints of inappropriate labeling by "Siberian ginseng" manufacturers.

Since September 1997, federal labeling regulations have been in place for botanical ingredients to be identified with standardized common names that can be referenced in AHPA's Herbs of Commerce, 1st Edition (1992). Citing the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under section 21 and subsection 101.4 (h), AHPA stated that manufacturers need to label Eleutherococcus senticosus as eleuthero because "Any name in Latin form shall be in accordance with internationally accepted rules on nomenclature, such as those found in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature and shall include the designation of the author or authors who published the Latin name, when a positive identification cannot be made in its absence."

According to AHPA, calling eleuthero "Siberian ginseng" was a marketing tool instigated in the 1970s. While eleuthero is similar to Panax ginseng, it has a different species and genus. But because many consumers were unaware of what eleuthero is, the industry addressed this problem by allowing manufacturers to show the relationship between eleuthero and Siberian ginseng on their packages. According to AHPA's counsel, Tony Young, "Herbs of Commerce allows manufacturers to name their product as eleuthero and include the term `Siberian ginseng' in parenthetical or quotation marks following the common name, eleuthero, anywhere the name appears on the package."

AHPA said the alert was a reminder to manufacturers to be careful about their labeling practices. "It is ... apparent that many in our industry were not aware of the requirement as it pertains to Eleutherococcus senticosus," AHPA stated. The organization advised members to evaluate their product labels and advertising before FTC or the Food and Drug Administration consider regulatory action. For additional information, visit www.ahpa.org.

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