GNC Holdings, owners of the stores that many consumers rely on for health supplements, has reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General regarding the company’s Herbal Plus products, providing New York officials with results of internal tests and those conducted by independent third parties.
At issue is the ingredients of some herbal supplements sold at GNC — as well as at other major retailers across the country.
Last month, the New York State Attorney General’s office sent cease-and-desist letters to GNC, Walgreens, Walmart and Target, ordering them to stop selling some of their store-brand herbal supplements in New York. They include ginseng, St. John’s Wort, echinacea and ginkgo biloba. A bottle of ginkgo biloba at a GNC in Manhattan can cost $16.99.
The cease-and-desist letters from the office of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman came after officials conducted DNA testing allegedly showing that, overall, just 21 percent of store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79 percent coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.
GNC says that its agreement with New York officials “affirms that the relevant GNC products were in full compliance with the federal Food and Drug Administration ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practices’ and acknowledges GNC’s full cooperation with the Attorney General’s inquiries.”
GNC said it has preserved the specific product lots of the five products that were the subject of the New York attorney general’s office investigation “for use in defending the company against the lawsuits that have been filed subsequent to the NYAG’s February 2 letter, despite the fact that there is no prohibition against the sale of such products.”
The cease-and-desist letters, Attorney General Schneiderman requested the companies provide detailed information relating to the production, processing and testing of herbal supplements sold at their stores, along with a thorough explanation of quality control measures in place.
“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement last month.