By: Kirk Shelley
Does that vitamin C bottle really contain what it says it does?
Well you can hope so, and they will eventually probably get called out for fraud if it doesn’t, but unlike FDA regulated products, food supplements are not tested by the FDA.
This is a blessing and a curse.
The blessings are:
- Lower costs
- Quick time to the market
- No prescription needed
The curses are:
- Nebulous claims about health effects because the FDA won’t let food make health claims
- Very little testing on potency and quality of supplements
- Many low-quality supplements can affect the health of people who need specific vitamins
In short, Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) is the watchword.
That does not mean it is entirely unregulated.
The FDA screens supplements like any other food for safety, but most of its regulation of the food supplement industry is what they can claim on their labeling and marketing claims.
One area that has been a concern for bodybuilders was protein powders.
Protein is expensive, so some manufacturers were not giving all they were claiming.
This was known in the industry as spiking.
The sports nutrition giant GNC has been waging a private war against cheating protein powder companies:
Within the bodybuilding community, this has been treated with positive support for GNC’s efforts.
But now a new company has begun testing their supplements to make sure you are getting what you are paying for.
The drugstore chain, CVS, has been quietly removing supplements whose labels are not matching their test results.
In other words, when you pick up 1000 mg of vitamin C, it had better be in there if you want to sell it at CVS.
They also are making sure that the products don’t contain heavy metals or pesticides, and also ensuring the non-active ingredient list matches the package.
They also have high standards for any supplement that claims to be gluten-free.
This means it must test to be lower than 20 parts per million.
The company has hired several independent testing firms to check products in their stores.
The announcement appeared last month, and people have already noticed some products have been quietly removed.
CVS claims that 1,400 vitamins and supplements from 152 brands across 11 categories, including diet and nutrition, pain and digestive have completed testing.
CVS is the only national retailer to implement this type of testing program.
To many, this type of program is welcomed news and hopefully will become a new standard for vitamin retailers.
While the FDA does not allow supplement manufacturers to make health claims, many doctors do realize the importance of supplementing key nutrients in their patients’ care.
Many people suffer from serious vitamin D deficiencies and getting safe and effective doses is important for their overall health. (To see why vitamin D is so important, see this article in Freedom Health News)
The program is called “Tested to be Trusted” and began in 2017 and is currently in place at all of their locations.
CVS said in their release:
The program “requires all products with a supplement panel at CVS Pharmacy to be certified either by NSF International, a global public health testing, inspection and certification organization, or verified by USP (The United States Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit organization that publishes an annual compendium of drug information), or participate in CVS Pharmacy’s required third party testing program conducted through NSF or Eurofins, a laboratory specializing in food, pharma and environmental testing.”
This is certainly a program that will protect consumers from fly-by-night con artists in the multibillion-dollar supplement industry and may keep the FDA regulators out of consumer choice.