The New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, recently announced that his office sent cease and desist letters to four major retailers, GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, for allegedly selling store brand herbal supplements that either did not contain the labeled substance, or contained ingredients that were not listed on the labels. The cease and desist letters demanded that the giant retailers to immediately stop selling the popular herbal products, including Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others.
The New York AG’s office also demanded that the retailers provide detailed information about the production, processing and testing of the herbal supplements, as well as explain in detail their production quality control measures.
The factual basis for the AG’s action is DNA testing of the herbal supplements. The DNA test results show that only 21% of the store brand herbal supplements contained DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels, whereas 79% of the products failed to contain any DNA related to the labeled content. Walmart was by far the worst offender of all of the major retailers with only 4% of the Walmart products actually containing DNA that matched the product label.
Attorney General Schneiderman said, “this investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements.” He went on to say that “the DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry. Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families–especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health.”
If this is happening in New York, then it is most likely also happening everywhere else these products are sold nationwide. This creates some very serious liability for the giant retailers. It also creates some very serious potential dangers for North Carolina consumers. Those with life-threatening allergies rely on retailers to make sure that the products they sell are safe and contain what is listed on the product label. Mislabeling is one of the primary causes of serious injury and/or death to those with life-threatening allergies. If one of these products contained traces of nuts or nut oils, then the product would be a source of danger and potential injury to any person with a nut allergy.
Davis Law Group is currently interviewing individuals in North Carolina who have bought and consumed these mislabeled products, as we believe that further testing is justified to see if local retailers are also selling mislabeled products. If we are able to confirm that fake herbal supplements are being sold in North Carolina, then Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Office needs to get involved and take action like that in New York.
Class action lawsuits are also another way to stop bad corporate behavior. Although class action lawsuits have been curtailed by recent Supreme Court rulings, they are still viable in certain types of cases. If you have bought and/or consumed any of the herbal supplements from these giant retailers, feel free to contact the team at Davis Law Group for further information.