‘Sketchy’ Herbal Supplements Lawsuit Begins

How can you tell whether herbal supplements contain the herbs they claim to on the label?

How can you tell whether herbal supplements contain the herbs they claim to on the label?

According to ClassActionRebates.com, the New York Attorney General recently launched an investigation into generic herbal supplements and found that many do not contain the advertised active ingredients.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that his office sent letters to four major retailers — GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens — for allegedly selling store brand herbal supplement products that either could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels.

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The letters call for the retailers to immediately stop the sale of certain popular products, including Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others. Attorney General Schneiderman requested the companies provide detailed information relating to the production, processing and testing of herbal supplements sold at their stores, as well as set forth a thorough explanation of quality control measures in place.

The letters come as DNA testing, performed as part of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, allegedly shows that, overall, just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.

The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.

Related: Which herbal supplements are worth the money?

The Attorney General’s investigation follows a study conducted by the University of Guelph in 2013 that found contamination and substitution in herbal products in most of the products tested. As was said at the time by a spokesperson for the University of Guelph, “The industry suffers from unethical activities by some manufacturers.”

If you have purchased certain generic herbal supplements from stores such as GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, then you may be able to join a free class action lawsuit investigation. To see if you qualify to join this free investigation, please contact the Law Offices of Ronald Marron.

Photo: Shutterstock/Image Point Fr

Written by Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan writes about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for Insteading (and EatDrinkBetter.com before the two sites merged) and is the author of Greening Your Small Business. She is an Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone and was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster, an MFA and an MBA – follow her on Twitter.


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