Four National Retailers Selling Supplements with Unlisted Ingredients

After testing a number of supplements from four prominent national retailers, the office of the New York State Attorney General announced that test results showed Target, Walmart, GNC and Walgreens sold supplements that, in most cases, contained none of the ingredients listed on their labels.

The New York Times reported Feb. 3 that the retailers were sent the test results along with instructions to cease-and-desist sales of the products in question. The Times noted that, after all testing was concluded, four out of five supplements tested contained ingredients that were not advertised on the label, or contained no traces of the ingredients as listed.

Walgreens’ Finest Nutrition brand of gingko biloba was found to contain no gingko biloba, and instead testers found rice. The same brand of St. John’s wort found no St. John’s wort, but did detect the presence of garlic, rice and dracaena, a common houseplant.

The results were shockingly similar across the board. Walmart’s Spring Valley brand of ginseng contained no ginseng, but did contain rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/ grass and citrus.

Target’s Up & Up brand of valerian root, a natural sleep aid, showed zero valerian root in the caplets. Instead, testers found garlic, bean, asparagus, pea, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto.

The attorney general’s list was repetitive, revealing a disappointing theme among supplement manufacturers. It is critical to consumer safety that buyers remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not monitor manufacturers’ behavior, nor do they test every supplement product. Without any oversight from the FDA, it seems that supplement manufacturers are prepared to cut costs by sacrificing quality to an extreme degree.

The dietary supplement industry has shown impressive growth within the past several years. Data from the Nutritional Business Journal valued its annual revenue at approximately $32 billion, a number that is expected to balloon to $61 billion by 2021.

Oliver Law Firm will continue to monitor this story to provide updates as more details become available.

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