Courtesy of the New York Times
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. Investigators found at least nine products that made apparently illegal health claims, including a product containing ginkgo biloba that was labeled as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and a product containing ginseng labeled as a treatment to prevent diabetes and cancer. The report, which was prepared by the Government Accountability Office, was provided to The New York Times and was made public at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
Bonnie - herbs inherently contain more heavy metals and pesticides because they are plants and are harvested from the soil. However, I have said in the past that you have a higher risk from contamination with herbs than vitamins and minerals.
I have also said incessantly that dietary supplements need more oversight. The average consumer does not have the time to look at raw material assays, research the safety of specific ingredients, and go through research like we do. There are a lot of bad apples selling adulterated dietary supplements and they need to be reigned in.
Do I have confidence that the FDA can accomplish this? Their track record with pharmaceutical oversight does not give me confidence.