We’ve just entered a new phase of media pandemonium surrounding the battle between New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and nutritional supplements…
… because Chuck Norris has elbowed his way into the fray.
Before we give the details, a little backstory in case you’ve already let this controversy slip past your radar (which was probably a good idea):
A couple months ago, the New York attorney general threw a hissy fit after a lab technician he recruited found some supplements from major retailers’ shelves were allegedly lacking in the nutrients they claimed to have.
The media squealed with delight. Fingers were pointed. Speeches were made…
… and it turns out the attorney general’s lab lackey did a downright lousy job testing the supplements in the first place. But that didn’t stop the AG from continuing to fight the good (for his career) fight, yipping like a Chihuahua and dragging other states’ AGs into the mix.
Enter Chuck Norris.
Rather than his usual roundhouse kicks to the face, he’s merely written a (sort of) strongly worded article. We’re assuming he did so on an outdoor desk facing a panoramic Texas vista, eyeballing his first draft with a steely-eyed gaze. Anyway, here’s the article if you want to read it.
Typical “common sense” crud, in my opinion, when the author’s No. 1 priority is avoiding offended feelings at all costs and scoring a perfect 10 on the “agreeability” scale.
I can feel myself getting too riled up for an objective breakdown of what’s wrong with ole Charles Norris’ breathless read, so I’ll let Jasmine LeMaster, our resident ingredient egghead, take over…
Unfortunately, Mr. Norris has missed two very important facts in the NYAG situation, making it appear worse than it is (at least for GNC).
Chuck writes: “Some bottles of ‘St. John’s wort’ and ‘valerian root’ tested negative for the herbs on their labels.”
However, The NYAG used DNA testing to identify the botanicals in the products.
The problem is DNA testing does not work on botanical extracts, because the DNA becomes degraded during processing. And we now know that all the GNC products tested were extracts, explaining why some of products tested negative.
And then Chuck writes that “GNC reached an agreement with [the NYAG] to adopt more stringent testing standards than the FDA requires,” which seems to indict GNC as guilty. However, he failed to mention that GNC did prove that the supplements in question contained the herbs they claimed on the label.
More so, in an open letter to the industry, the head of GNC states: “NYAG found no evidence in the course of the investigation that GNC deviated from the federal Food and Drug Administration Current Good Manufacturing Practices…”
Simply to appease the NYAG, GNC agreed on a settlement and will go above and beyond what the FDA requires for supplement testing.
Now, in Chuck’s defense… other than those two missing facts, his article is actually pretty spot on with a problem in the supplement industry: There are shady companies out there selling products filled with nothing but rice flour, or, worse, tainted with drugs.
But just to be clear, there are extensive federal regulations for the supplement industry, both for how the products are manufactured and what claims companies can make about those products.
Anyone who say it’s “unregulated” is wrong. And the fact that some companies don’t follow the regulations doesn’t mean the industry as a whole is selling unsafe, unproven snake oil.
Aside from the tacky move of putting his own name in the title of his own article, and posting a huge picture of his face at the start, Chuck has some good advice on how to spot quality supplements: Look for companies that use manufacturers with third-party certifications, like NSF. And research what you’re buying before you buy it.
First of all, we’re all aware that if anyone’s earned the right to refer to himself in the third person in an article title… and feature a giant photo of himself in the lead… it’s Chuck Norris.
Second, I disagree with the premise of something being “wrong” with the supplement industry. Reminds me of the old saw “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The same could be said for a smothering (and ultimately lethal) government.
The supplement industry is evolving like any other should: The market is given freedom to both sell and consume products. As consumers become more educated, and more demanding, businesses will respond with better service. More advanced technology (spurred into existence by market forces) will help both merchants and consumers get what they want.
In a perfect world, Chuck Norris would agree.
What about you? Write in (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know if you agree with Chuck.
Underground Health Researcher