retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post has a long piece about how much about the dietary supplement business is unknown and/or unregulated, which has the potential of putting consumers at significant risk.

The basic problem, regulators say, is that "the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, or DSHEA, was created with heavy input from the supplements industry and consumers who use their products. As a result, the measure is widely seen as tilting the scales in favor of providing consumer access to supplements rather that ensuring safety. It limits government interference in the huge and growing market."

That can be a problem.  Earlier this year, Pieter Cohen, a physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, "published his 14th paper concerning dietary supplements that contained either prohibited or unlisted ingredients. This time, he and his colleagues analyzed 17 brands of sports and weight-loss supplements sold in the United States, and they detected nine prohibited stimulants in them. Almost half of the brands tested included more than one prohibited stimulant."

The core issue, the Post suggests, is that regulators do not know what is on the market, does not known what is in those products, and does not have the agency to be able to regulate much of the industry.  The dietary supplement business has grown by more than 10 times in the past three decades, but the budget of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not, even if it has the ability to crack down on the supplements industry.

You can read the piece here.