GNC Announces New Quality Control Measures (NYSE:GNC)

GNC has announced that it would be implementing new quality control measures for the herbal supplements sold by the company. GNC is expanding its testing process throughout its supply chain to ensure that its supplements are truly made using the ingredients listed on the box. Sign displays in stores and information posted on the company’s website will be used to explain the process of creating the supplements and the differences between extracts and whole herbs. GNC is currently the leading retailer of dietary supplements in the United States.

GNC and other major retailers were accused by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of selling herbal supplements that contained potentially harmful fillers and contaminants. Herbal supplements sold by New York locations of the cited stores were tested by the attorney general’s office. The attorney general’s office found that only 21% of the samples actually contained DNA from the plants listed on the product’s labels.

Some tested GNC products were found to contain a variety of contaminants, including asparagus, rice, spruce, houseplant and legume, among other things. Schneiderman sent letters to the accused companies in February asking them to stop selling several of their popular herbal supplements due to the questionable content of the products.

The business practices of the herbal supplement industry have been under increasing scrutiny over the past few years. The market for herbal supplements, worth $60 billion worldwide, is very lightly regulated when compared to other products consumed by people. Herbal supplements are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as drugs are by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This has led to a number of reported issues with the quality of herbal supplements.

GNC has also announced plans to begin testing their supplements for the eight most common allergens, including tree nuts, wheat and soy. Failing to identify and list all of the ingredients in herbal supplements could result in a dangerous allergic reaction in consumers with food allergies and those who are taking medications that could interact negatively with the ingredients. The company’s new quality control measures are the first testing standards for herbal supplements to exceed the current requirements of the Food and Drug Administration. The new policies will be introduced over the next 18 months.

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