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Herbal Supplements Often Have Contaminants, FDA Shrugs

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Ru-oh. Yet again the FDA is ignoring problems instead of figuring out a plan to fix them, shirking its responsibility, and Washington co-signs.

Healthy or insane shelf 2

Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found.

The levels of heavy metals — including mercury, cadmium and arsenic — did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous, the investigators found. However, 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, the investigators found. In some cases, the government has not set allowable levels of these pesticides because of a paucity of scientific research.

(click to continue reading Herbal Supplements Often Have Contaminants, Study Finds – NYTimes.com.)

Don’t understand why the FDA doesn’t take the time to test supplements for pollutants. What’s the downside? Is the American Chemical Council afraid of the answers? Namely, that pesticides and pollutants are in nearly every single item we consume, including vitamins and herbs?

This troubles me.

Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat who will preside over Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said that while improvements had been made in recent years in the oversight of supplements, “the F.D.A. needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe and effective as is widely perceived by the Americans who take them.”

Among the witnesses at the hearing will be Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, a company that has tested over 2,000 dietary supplements made by more than 300 manufacturers and has found that one in four have quality problems. According to Dr. Cooperman’s written testimony, the most common problems are supplements that lack adequate quantities of the indicated ingredients and those contaminated with heavy metals.

Travis T. Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, wrote a letter to the committee saying that some athletes have been rendered ineligible for international competitions because they took supplements that contained steroids not listed on the products’ labels. There are thousands of supplements available for sale that contain steroids or other harmful ingredients, he wrote.

But this really troubles me:

In recent years, a vast majority of supplement suppliers have located overseas — principally in China. Nearly all of the vitamin C and many other supplements consumed in the United States are made from ingredients made in Chinese plants. Those plants are almost never inspected by the F.D.A. because the agency is not required to do so, has little money to do so and does not view the plants as particularly risky.

Made in China often means profit over quality, and lax oversight. Scary, if you consider the amount of vitamins and supplements that Americans consume.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 28th, 2010 at 9:43 am

Posted in government,health

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