NBTY Agrees to DNA Barcode Herbal Ingredients

NBTY, Eric T. Schneiderman, DNA Barcode, dietary supplements

NBTY Inc., an herbal supplement manufacturer and distributor for brands such as Nature’s Bounty and Solgar, has agreed to exceed federal standards and conduct advanced genetic testing in an effort to confirm the identity and purity of ingredients listed on dietary supplement labels.

The agreement, which was announced by the New York Attorney General’s (AG) Office on Wednesday, follows a study conducted in 2015, by NYAG Eric T. Schneiderman, which failed to show the genetic materials for plants listed on the labels of retailers, such as GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart, dietary supplements. The study instead showed the products contained fillers and in some, nuts, which can be harmful to those with food allergies.

“When consumers take an herbal supplement, they should be able to do so confident that the plant on the label is the plant in the bottle, and that every reasonable precaution was taken to ensure the product’s authenticity and purity,” said Schneiderman in a press release. “Consumers can only have that confidence if the companies that sell herbal supplements employ the best and most reliable testing measures for combating fraud and ruling out dangerous allergens. I am pleased that NBTY has joined GNC and Nature’s way and agreed to increase transparency, improve quality control, and do more to protect consumers, and I urge the rest of the herbal supplements industry to do the same.”

Under the three year agreement, NBTY Inc., will:

  • Phase in, within two years, DNA barcoding.
  • Implement annual tests for eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat.
  • Double the number of on-site audits of major ingredient suppliers.
  • Invest at least $250,000 to herbal authenticity genetic research.
  • Partner with Cornell University and other research institutes to further the transparency and traceability of herbal dietary supplements, including through DNA barcoding.

In the agreement, NBTY Inc., holds the position, that while “DNA testing of herbal dietary supplements is an emerging science in its developmental stages […] scientifically verified standards and methodologies utilizing DNA testing that could be considered accurate and reliable do not exist for establishing the authenticity of finished herbal dietary supplements. NBTY’s position is also that current DNA testing technology cannot accurately or reliably determine whether finished herbal dietary supplements include potential allergens, contaminants, or unlabeled fillers.”

The agreement also notes the “NYAG found no evidence in the course of its investigation that NBTY deviated from, or failed to administer, the testing procedures mandated by the FDA’s ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practices’ rules or standard industry practice in the production of the NBTY manufactured herbal dietary supplements at issue in this investigation.”

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 9/30/2016