You have surely seen the news. It was all over the TV news stations, the newspapers, and the Internet. It was just about impossible to miss. But as usual, the media didn't do its due diligence. They just reported the story without any regard for the truth. Here's what happened.
According to the New York Times: "The New York State attorney general's office accused four major retailers on Monday of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements and demanded that they remove the products from their shelves.
"The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies."
Shocking isn't it? These companies should be forced to pull their products immediately, right? Well, don't be fooled.
The so-called expert for the attorney general's office used DNA bar coding to test the products. The test identifies plants and animals by looking for short sequences of DNA unique to each organism.
Well that sounds scientific and high-tech. They test DNA all the time on those CSI television shows, don't they? Unfortunately, the test is fatally flawed.
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You see, while DNA bar coding is very reliable when testing on an intact organism like a whole plant or fish (which is how the FDA has been using it), it's not effective for testing standardized extracts. During the manufacturing process of standardized extracts, the DNA can be removed or damaged. If that's the case, then a DNA test will show that there aren't any herbs in the formula. It doesn't mean the extracts didn't come from the herbs. It just means the DNA is no longer available for testing.
Looking at the products carried by the targeted companies, at least two-thirds of them were extracts — likely more. And every GNC product tested was an extract.
And what about those contaminants? The Attorney General said in his letter that these products "pose unacceptable risks to New York families — especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients." Whenever a politician starts talking about children and families, watch out! Here's the big problem.
DNA testing is so sensitive that even the tiniest amount of DNA can trigger a positive test. But that is likely not enough to trigger an allergic reaction. It's certainly no more than you would find in every food and medicine you have in your home right now. Since only DNA bar coding was used, there's no way to know how much of any "contaminant" was present in these products.
But we can't get any details about the testing methods. Once the story broke, industry experts called for a peer review of the study. But the Attorney General is stonewalling saying "our data is part of an ongoing investigation."
Meanwhile, the supplement manufacturers were declared guilty without a trial. Walgreens and GNC quickly agreed to pull their products. Walmart is not far behind.
This is a travesty that should not stand. What the New York attorney general's office has done is nothing more than a PR stunt and a complete abuse of power. This bogus "evidence" would never stand up in court. If you live in New York, please contact New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact and demand that the attorney general's office release all of their data for peer review.
And if you are concerned about the quality of Advanced Bionutritionals supplements, please know that we identity test every ingredient using FTIR spectrometers and compare to a purity index. Batches are screened for contaminants like mold, yeast, staph, and salmonella. Our manufacturing process conforms with the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices. Furthermore, our manufacturing facility is independently GMP Registered by NSF International.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.