The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has responded to more than 20 media outlets' coverage of the New York State Attorney General's supplement investigation to stress that the allegations are based on inadequate and unproven testing of herbal supplement products. The test results are at the core of the Attorney General's misinformed allegations that several major retailers are selling adulterated and/or mislabeled herbal dietary supplements.
AHPA sent letters to the editors of more than two dozen media outlets to explain why the testing behind the allegations can't be trusted. Instead of using any of the well-established and valid methods of botanical identity testing, the laboratory that conducted testing for the Attorney General used DNA barcoding as the only method to attempt to identify ingredients in herbal dietary supplements including extracts.
The letters to the editors stress that one of the well-known limitations of DNA barcoding is its inability in most cases to identify herbal extracts due to the loss or denaturation of DNA material during processing. Without additional confirming analysis, using a DNA method that has not been validated for each specific tested product is unscientific and results only in speculation.
In conclusion, the letters also inform editors that all facilities that manufacturer herbal supplements are required by U.S. law to comply with strict current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) requirements that, in part, direct manufacturers to conduct appropriate tests or examination to verify that the dietary supplements they make, including botanical supplements, meet all product specifications. FDA regularly inspects dietary supplement manufacturing facilities to ensure compliance with cGMP requirements and has authority to take action against companies that do not comply.
AHPA continues to monitor media coverage of the issue and respond to inaccuracies as appropriate. If you see an article that merits response, please notify AHPA Director of Communications Haley Chitty at firstname.lastname@example.org.