Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

26 June, 2007

Would You Like Some Arsenic With That Kelp?

Finally! The FDA has taken some steps to further regulate herbal supplements.

Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Dr Andrew C. von Eschenbach said that:

"This rule helps to ensure the quality of dietary supplements so that consumers can be confident that the products they purchase contain what is on the label."

The regulations cover good practice in all stages of the product's life cycle from manufacturing through packaging and labelling to storage. It covers testing of the finished product and the handling and recording of consumer complaints. And, as well as ongoing operations, the ruling covers the design and construction of manufacturing plants.

Recent changes in the law also means that the industry will have to report adverse events to the FDA:

"In addition, as a result of recent amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, by the end of the year, industry will be required to report all serious dietary supplement related adverse events to FDA," said Eschenbach.


Unfortunately, the manufacturers aren't actually required to prove the safety or efficacy of their products so they can continue to put vague claims on their labels and, in general, bullshit the public.

Unsurprisingly, "independent journalists" like Mike Adams aren't taking it too well. When the FDA announced their intentions, he blogged all Stentorian-like: "It is the latest action item by the FDA / Big Pharma conspiracy that will not stop until health freedom has been abolished, drug companies rule the nation, and every citizen is diagnosied with a fictitious disease and drugged up on monopoly-priced pharmaceuticals…The FDA has declared war on natural medicine and the American people". To paraphrase Penn Jillette, what a reactionary asshole.

Someone slightly less hyperbolic but just as conspiracy-minded is "Big" Bill Bailey, PhD. Oh, and MH, ND, CNHP, and CTN. He asks, Why Would the FDA Ban, or Regulate, Supplements?" and follows the paranoid trail blazed by Adams by blaming it all on Big Pharma. Well, Big Bill, perhaps one reason might be to ensure that high levels of arsenic don't end up in your kelp supplements.

Janell Mayo Duncan of the Consumers Union said that "it is still a case of 'buyer beware for consumers of dietary supplements because manufacturers are not required to list known health risks for their products, or make sure that they are safe or effective'." All the FDA wants to do is make sure that, if a company claims a pill has a certain amount of an ingredient in it, then the pill has that amount and that there's no arsenic in your fucking kelp supplements. No one is making sure that the kelp pills actually have a salubrious effect (yet) or banning them. Here's a good summation from the article cited at the beginning of my rant:

The purpose is to protect consumers from products contaminated with toxins, bacteria, pesticides, glass, lead and other heavy metals and to prevent misleading labelling, improper packaging, inclusion of the wrong ingredients, or incorrect amounts of ingredients. The FDA says products have been recalled in the past for these reasons.

That's Big Pharma for ya. They're just a bunch of assholes conspiring at the highest levels of power to keep pesticides, arsenic, and glass out of your ginseng suppositories. Better run to the Willy Street Co-op or Community Pharmacy to stock up before the rules go into effect and all that natural, holistic glass is removed from the precious supplements.
|| Palmer, 3:55 PM

2 Comments:

But darlin', Big Pharma isn't proctecting people from arsenic-laden kelp, the FDA is. And while not screaming 'conspiracy', I reserve the right to be very very very suspicious of Big Pharma, because like the rest of the [evil capitalist scum] free market, they actually don't have my best interests in mind.

The D

p.s. I was just talking the other day about how the FDA banned two things I think they shouldn't have banned, Phenylpropalamine (okay, that's misspelled) the best decongestant EVER, because it was being abused as a diet pill and may have caused heart attacks - and L-Tryptophan supplements, because there was an adulterated (read:poisonous) supply of it shipped into the States and at least one person died.
Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 PM  
Sheesh, can't I be sarcastic? If the whole deal is a Big Pharma conspiracy and it's purpose is to keep glass out of ginseng pills, then Big P is responsible.
Blogger Palmer, at 7:53 AM  

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