Major Retailers Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

March 24, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
Major Retailers Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

A recent investigation by the New York Attorney General discovered that herbal supplements being sold by Target, GNC, Walmart and Walgreens were contaminated with substances not listed on their labels, and that some brands did not contain any of the product listed on the label. The findings have led to a series of class action lawsuits against the companies seeking compensation for damages and purchase refunds.

On the face of it, herbal supplements seem at best to be harmless additions to your everyday diet. However, the findings presented by the New York Attorney General found that common herbal supplements contained contaminants that included common allergens. These undisclosed ingredients could cause allergic reactions, ranging from mild symptoms like itching or hives to major symptoms like anaphylactic shock resulting in death.

The Attorney General’s office looked into top-selling store brands of Echinacea, Garlic, Ginkgo Biloba, Saw Palmetto, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian Root. The supplements were DNA tested, and few were found to contain any plant DNA at all. Cease and desist letters were sent to the retailers demanding that the products be pulled from the shelves.

Among Walmart’s store brand supplements, just 4% were found to contain DNA from the plants listed on their respective labels. Walgreens faired slightly better, with 18%. Of the GNC supplements tested, 22% were found to have appropriate plant DNA, while Target scored best with 41%. Among the contaminants found were:

  • Rice

  • Beans

  • Pine

  • Citrus

  • Asparagus

  • Primrose

  • Wheat

  • Houseplant

  • Wild carrot

The Food and Drug Administration requires that food manufacturers list the eight most common food allergens. However, manufacturers of herbal supplements fall into a sort gray zone. Drugs and foodstuffs are heavily regulated, where herbal supplements generally need to prove only that a given product is fit for human consumption.

Every level of the chain is responsible in this case, but the lawsuits are targeting major retailers for failing to verify the quality of the products in question. In this, as in all else, it’s best to be as informed as possible.

Trust Crandall & Pera Law to help

Crandall & Pera Law provides comprehensive legal services to Ohio and Kentucky victims of product liability. If you have been taking herbal supplements and have experienced health problems as a result, or if you wish to learn more about the case, we invite you to contact our office to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer today.