June 18, 2024

Walgreens Pulls Phony Herbal Supplements; Walmart, Target, GNC Keep Selling

After tests showed their store-brand herbal supplements did not to contain the herbs on their labels,  Walmart, Walgreens Target and GNC all received cease and desist letters from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman yesterday.  Only Walgreens has responded by pulling the products.

Recall SignageWalmart Target and GNC issued statements that they were looking into the matter. While they do, their shoppers cam feel free to shell out $8-$10 on bottles full of sand, allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant) or cassava (tropical tree root), but labeled Ginseng, Garlic, St John’ Wort or Echinacea. Because that’s what the tests found.

According to Schneiderman’s office,  79 percent of herbal products tested did not contain plant species identified on the label. And some contained contaminants not identified on product labels.

The products testes included Target’s up & up brand, Walgreens Finest Nutrition, Walmart’s Spring Valley and GNC’s own label. Walmart fared the worst in testing with just 4 percent of  Spring Valley products tested containing DNA from plants listed on the products’ labels.

Supplements do not have to undergo a premarket evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are sold. So, it’s up to the manufacturers to make sure that their products are safe and accurately labeled. This is the latest example of the flaw in that system.

Dietary-SupplementsBecause they contain undeclared and sometimes illegal ingredients, dietary supplements have caused serious illness and injury. Undeclared ingredients can interfere with prescription drugs and exacerabte existing medical conditions. About 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries are from mislabeled supplements. And the FDA has received dozens of reports of associated with dietary supplements sold as weight loss products, including increased blood pressure, racing heart, stroke, seizure and death.

“This study undertaken by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office is a well-controlled, scientifically-based documentation of the outrageous degree of adulteration in the herbal supplement industry,” said Arthur P. Grollman, M.D., Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University. “I applaud the New York Attorney General for taking the additional step of seeking to remove these products from the marketplace as they can cause serious harm to consumers unaware of the actual ingredients in the pills and capsules they ingest. Hopefully, this action can prompt other states to follow New York’s example and lead to the reform of federal laws that, in their current form, are doing little to protect the public.”


  1. It’s about time, and thank you FDA. I’m so mad I wasted money on these brands!

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