Attorney generals form a coalition to ensure the herbal supplement industry is validating their marketing claims.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

March 10, 2015

2 Min Read
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.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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