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Most (But Not All) Recalled Supplements Are Removed from Market

A new study has found that most, but not all, supplements that the FDA had recalled in previous years were successfully removed from store shelves. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study looked at 274 supplements recalled between 2009 and 2012 due to the presence of a pharmaceutical ingredient; it found 27 of them were still available for purchase in 2013, and 18 still contained pharmaceutical adulterants. While the results suggest that the FDA may need more resources to better enforce current regulations, the findings should not be overstated and do not necessitate legal reform, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a leading dietary supplement trade group. Here are some of the reasons for viewing the study with caution:

  • 9 of the 27 supplements tested in the study had been reformulated and were free of adulterants. This means that, of the initial 274 supplements, 256 had been successfully recalled and permanently removed from the market—a 93% success rate.
  • The FDA has ample authority to investigate and recall dangerous products, as evidenced by its success in permanently removing 93% of the recalled supplements.
  • While there should be a zero tolerance policy towards companies who manufacture or sell contaminated products, the new study found adulterants in a very small fraction of all the supplements available on the market.

Nevertheless, if there is any concern about the quality of a supplement, it is never a bad idea to purchase from one of the many companies who follow federally required Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). To find out if a company follows GMPs, check for a statement on the product label or company website, or call the manufacturer directly.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

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