Composition with dietary supplement capsules. Drug pills

Consumer Alert: Fake Herbal Supplements from Walmart, Walgreens, GNC and Target

The New York Attorney General has order Target, Walmart, Walgreens and GNC to stop selling fake and potentially dangerous store brand herbal supplements after his testing found “four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels”. (New York Times 2/3/15) Some of the so-called supplements even contained unlisted ingredients that could cause deadly reactions in people with allergies. The New York Attorney General is reporting:

“[J]ust 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.”
“Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.”

Contact Citadel if you think you may have been the victim of what appears to be a massive scam by Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and GNC. Call (401) 383-7550. Here is what the Attorney General’s testing found for each retailer:

GNC:

  • Six “Herbal Plus” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. Purchased from four locations with representative stores in Binghamton, Harlem, Plattsburgh & Suffolk.
  • Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Garlic. One bottle of Saw Palmetto tested positive for containing DNA from the saw palmetto plant, while three others did not. The remaining four supplement types yielded mixed results, but none revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of 120 DNA tests run on 24 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 22% of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included asparagus, rice, primrose, alfalfa/clover, spruce, ranunculus, houseplant, allium, legume, saw palmetto, and Echinacea.

Target:

  • Six “Up & Up” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. Purchased from three locations with representative stores in Nassau County, Poughkeepsie, and Syracuse.
  • Three supplements showed nearly consistent presence of the labeled contents: Echinacea (with one sample identifying rice), Garlic, and Saw Palmetto. The remaining three supplements did not revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of 90 DNA tests run on 18 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 41% of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot and saw palmetto.

Walgreens:

  • Six “Finest Nutrition” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. Purchased from three locations with representative stores in Brooklyn, Rochester, and Watertown.
  • Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Saw Palmetto. The remaining five supplements yielded mixed results, with one sample of garlic showing appropriate DNA. The other bottles yielded no DNA from the labeled herb.
  • Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 18% of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, rice, wheat, palm, daisy, and dracaena (houseplant).

Walmart:

  • Six “Spring Valley” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. Purchased from three geographic locations with representative stores in Buffalo, Utica and Westchester.
  • None of the supplements tested consistently revealed DNA from the labeled herb. One bottle of garlic had a minimal showing of garlic DNA, as did one bottle of Saw Palmetto. All remaining bottles failed to produce DNA verifying the labeled herb.
  • Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 4% of the time.
  • Contaminants identified included allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant), and cassava (tropical tree root).

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