Dietary Supplement Labeling Bill is No Solution

July 19, 2011

Washington, D.C. – At the end of June, just before the sleepy holiday weekend news cycle, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 1310, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011. The bill is a response to recent marketing tactics by unscrupulous food companies intended to circumvent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

The most familiar example, and, apparently the specific reason for the legislation, is the brownies product called Lazy Cakes. Concerned parents made the story national news due to concerns that their children were consuming the brownies while they were unaware that they contained melatonin. The makers of Lazy Cakes, afraid that their profit margin would take a serious blow if they had to add a warning to the product label, decided to re-brand the brownies as “dietary supplements”.

Citizens for Health understands and shares the concern that makers of treats like Lazy Cakes or the plethora of “energy drinks” that have exploded on the market in the last decade are exploiting our system of consumer safety regulations and unethically targeting children with their duplicitous marketing. However, the answer is not directing more scrutiny and placing a greater financial burden on dietary supplement companies whose products have a long-standing, demonstrated track record of safety.

Supplements are not drugs, and therefore, deserve their own system of regulation – and that’s the point. Such a system already exists thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), and it has done a more than adequate job protecting consumers largely due to supplement companies’ compliance with, and support of, that system.

S. 1310 grants the FDA and the Institute of Medicine the power to compile a list of dietary ingredients that pose a potential threat. And there’s the rub. What are the measures by which an ingredient will be deemed to pose such a threat? And why give the FDA, an agency that has shown an anti-supplement bias in the past, the power to arbitrarily amass a list of “potentially dangerous” dietary ingredients, especially when there is already a system in place to ensure the safety of supplements?

Besides, the FDA is already overburdened and understaffed, and has enough trouble keeping up with its existing responsibilities for policing pharmaceutical companies in their rush to receive permission to sell their hastily tested, potentially dangerous drugs. Now food companies are resorting to underhanded tactics and masquerading some of their products as supplements as a way of avoiding the FDA regulations intended for them, placing even more pressure on the FDA to do their job. The solution isn’t to investigate supplements and dietary ingredients – it should be to investigate the food companies exploiting the system!

Put simply: At best, S. 1310 is a bad bill, albeit with good intentions. At worst, it uses parents’ fear about what their children are consuming as an excuse to take another crack at imposing unnecessary and redundant regulations on the dietary supplement industry, which has demonstrated time and again its ability to ensure the safety of its products.

More than 150 million Americans use some form of dietary supplement on a daily basis, and this should come as no surprise. Supplements are among the safest products available and are rooted in a wellness-based approach to health. The misguided scrutiny proposed in S. 1301 is better reserved for food companies trying to “play the system” – like the makers of Lazy Cakes – and for pharmaceutical companies whose products are employed as part of a sickness-based approach to health. After all the data demonstrating the potential negative impacts of pharmaceuticals increases daily. Senator Durbin has shown in the past his willingness to preserve our ability to safely access products, like dietary supplements, that contribute to maintaining our health and wellness. We must take this opportunity to respectfully alert him to his error in sponsoring S. 1301 and help him resume his role as a champion of the natural health consumer.

You can stop this bill before it ever has a chance – click here to send a message to your Senators NOW!

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Comments (8)

Any chance that Citizens for Health would aggressively go after the makers of Lazy Cakes?

Jeanette Bajorek

please take the right approach to food companies that market products as supplements that are not actually supplements, go after them and make them market responsibly, please vote no on s1310 more scrutiny on wellness based products is not needed, investigations on those companies using the supplement type branding for products that are not actually supplements is the right approach. The FDA does not need a bill to do the job they should already be doing which is to get these cheaters and punish them not the supplement makers that already have a system that works and they do a good job complying with. I must say that to continue to dumb down america with over reaching laws has got to stop. If a parent needs a new law to tell them that a product called Lazy Cakes is not necessarily good for thier kids then maybe we should invest in common sense parenting classes for free to those who need it. I am so tired of the government trying to impose more laws over and over that govern common sense choices that all americans should be personally responsible to make on thier own. if the government feels that certain food companies are exploiting regulatory systems in place already then they should go after those companies and make them honest hold them accountable. just as any american should take responsibility for thier choices but we should be free to make the choices and accept the consequeces of those choices good or bad.

I am the healthiest75 year man I know of. Since 1965 when multivitamins were first coming into drug stores . I have taken many different spplements since then were great results. I nevercame across abad pill yet .Leave our supplements alone.How many thousands of people are injured , ained and killed by hier drugs they bring to market using phony drug test result WHY DON’T YOU GO AND ATTACK THE RESTAURANTS WITH PHONY CALORI COUNTS ON THE MENUES. oH IT’S ok TO MAKE OUR POPULATION FAT , OUR BUDDIES CAN SEL THEM MORE DRUG.Please leave our supplements alone. They save the government millions ery year. Healthy people care for ourselves with supplements.

please vote no on labeling of supplements. I have taken them for years safely.They have kept me a very healthy 75 year old man
Thank you
Robert Morris

Don’t allow food manufacturers to abuse DSHEA to market their products.

I think your putting too much faith in the FDA, don’t forget, they allow us to have aspartame in our foods and drinks. Politial appointees don’t have to have expertees in the food science field, they’re bought and paid for and follow the money trail.

The FDA allows aspartane, Splenda(chlorinated sugar)High Fructose Corn Syrup and dyes to be put in our food and allow GMOs. These are all known to have negative effects on our body. Address these issues and not the supplments,please.

We have indeed addressed all those issues, and they will remain among our core foci. Please look through our site further, and you will see posts and/or action opportunities for all of them.
In fact, we just launched a new website today, to deal specifically with issues like the proposed name change for High Fructose Corn Syrup: See the press release on our homepage.

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