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Supplement Industry Tests Raise More Concerns About DNA Barcoding

In the past week, the dietary supplement industry has expressed serious concerns about the DNA barcode testing used by the New York Attorney General’s Office as a part of a recent investigation into dietary supplement quality. The attorney general used DNA barcoding to investigate certain supplements sold at four major retailers—GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. Now, new evidence has emerged to further substantiate industry concerns that DNA barcoding is an unreliable way to evaluate the quality of herbal extracts and some other herbal supplements. Specifically, GNC has announced that it has conducted its own tests, which contradict those done by the attorney general’s office:

  • GNC’s test results showed that all of the GNC products investigated by the attorney general contained the ingredients stated on their labels and were in full regulatory compliance for quality and purity.
  • GNC only used testing methodologies validated and approved by standard-setting, nonprofit scientific organizations, including the United States Pharmacopeia, the Association of Agricultural Chemists, the British Pharmacopeia, and the European Pharmacopeia.
  • GNC also stated that it subjects all of its store brand products to “rigorous and generally accepted testing” before they reach retail shelves, and that the new results match results from tests conducted on the products prior to their distribution.
  • While the new tests results only pertain to GNC products, they do raise doubts about the general validity of the tests conducted by the attorney general.

Nevertheless, in deference to the ongoing investigation, GNC will not restock the tested supplements in its New York stores until it has received a timely response from the attorney general in light of this new information.

Source: GNC/Business Wire

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