In response to last night's Dateline NBC airing of a segment featuring an adulterated and misbranded dietary supplement, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) objects to the show's questioning the safety of all dietary supplements by extrapolating the problems at one analytical lab to an entire responsible industry.
The show focused on a liquid vitamin product, Total Body Formula, which has been off the market since April 2008, and a sting operation targeting Atlas Biosciences, a laboratory that failed to identify an elevated level of selenium in the product.
Additionally, Dateline NBC failed to inform its viewers that the Total Body Formula product was not legal the moment it was put on the market -- federal regulations require that all dietary supplement products must meet label claims, and this one did not due to the extraordinary excess of selenium.
Dietary supplement manufacturers are required to ensure that they know what is in their products and the ingredients in those products. They can use outside analytical labs to test their products, but the common practice is to audit those labs, as under current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations, both the manufacturer and the laboratory are responsible if the results are erroneous.
Laboratories such as the one depicted on the Dateline NBC show do not represent the mainstream of laboratories that service the food, dietary supplement, drug, and allied industries. Such laboratories have also long been subject to FDA inspection and prosecution.
"The specific situation of a laboratory's failings covered by Dateline NBC is not representative of the responsible supplement industry," said Steven Dentali, chief science officer for AHPA. "The show failed to recognize the expertise found in hundreds of supplement companies that understand how to properly qualify a third-party testing laboratory. Knowledgeable manufacturers know how to choose a lab and to verify results."
The Dateline NBC story mentioned an FDA website to inform consumers about the most commonly illegal (tainted) products. AHPA maintains a website to keep the dietary supplement industry and consumers informed on issues related to illegal tainted products being sold as "dietary supplements." The site, KeepSupplementsClean.Org, provides detailed resources and information, including what both industry and consumers need to know about this important issue.
About the American Herbal Products Association
The American Herbal Products Association is the national trade association for and the voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and botanical and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products.