In 1994, Congress passed legislation that allowed supplement makers to sell products without first getting approval from the F.D.A. for their ingredients or for basic health claims. But scientific organizations have warned repeatedly since then that the F.D.A. should do more to ensure that the supplements are safe and that their health claims are substantiated.
In recent years, a vast majority of supplement suppliers have located overseas — principally in China. Nearly all of the vitamin C and many other supplements consumed in the United States are made from ingredients made in Chinese plants. Those plants are almost never inspected by the F.D.A. because the agency is not required to do so, has little money to do so and does not view the plants as particularly risky.
This is probably news to most people. I did NOT know that vitamin C is produced in China. I'm doing my best not to purchase food products from that region which has been noted for heavy metal contamination in recent years.
Mr. Mister said supplement sellers tested ingredients before using them, but he agreed that testing could not ensure quality. He called on Congress to provide the F.D.A. with more money to inspect foreign and domestic supplement plants. “I think you’ll see more and more inspections,” Mr. Mister said.
What we REALLY need is proper labeling of manufacturers and distributers of all food and supplements to show ingredients and place of manufacture.
He said that a few companies made illegal health claims for their supplements, but that the industry was trying to police those. “I occasionally see these late-night commercials with health claims that make my blood boil,” he said.
Dr. Sharfstein said the F.D.A. had increased enforcement actions against supplements spiked with prescription drugs like Viagra. And he said the agency had taken action against supplement makers that made broad health claims. “We don’t want people to think they’re treating a disease with something that hasn’t been proven to do that,” he said.
Did you read that right? Now kids in college not only have their drinks spiked, but the supplements will take them over the edge and they could go blind, too! [editorial exaggeration for grand effect.]
The food safety bill expected to be introduced next month in the Senate is likely to mandate that supplement makers register annually with the F.D.A. and allow the agency to recall supplements suspected of being dangerous.
I hope we don't become complacent as 'recalls' become an every day occurrence.
But a House provision that would require manufacturers to create plans to safely manufacture their products and a proposal made in February by Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, to restrict supplements to ingredients approved by the F.D.A. will not be included, staff members said.