Generally my rants about corporates who do not care about their customers and only about the bottom line are pretty well focused towards the pharmaceutical companies. However, sadly we have our share of them within our own supplement industry.
Unfortunately there are regular instances in which manufacturers mislead their customers through incorrect labels and put their health at risk by using contaminated ingredients.
The latest example is with Irwin Naturals a large Californian supplement manufacturer.
They have just been forced to pay a US$2.65 million settlement for unfair business practices stemming from two main counts. One was that some of their products contained more than 10 times the legal limit for lead. This was the most serious as this can be damaging for your health.
The other was that the Hoodia product that had the high lead contamination didn’t actually have any Hoodia in it.
How could this happen? Was it an error?
The answer: No it could not be an error! It is mandatory under current US FDA regulations that EVERY ingredient is ID tested (identification) prior to it being released for manufacture. It should also be assayed and tested for both heavy metal content and microbiological contamination.
In the case of Irwins it was not just one ingredient that had excessive lead in it. Their green tea was way over with 14 times the legal limit of lead.
This is a case of a manufacturer buying ingredient on price, not on quality. As I have mentioned many times before we are constantly offered ingredients at a fraction of the price that we normally pay. We have from time to time purchased a sample lot to send away for testing and in every case they have failed. So now, we don’t even bother to get a sample as there is no point wasting money on having it tested because we know they will likely fail.
Irwin Naturals are obviously either not testing or they are falsifying documents. Either way they are putting profits before the wellbeing of their customers.
Just a comment on Hoodia! A few years ago before it became the ‘rage’ thanks to hyped up marketing we investigated this ingredient. We even purchased samples of it from a US distributor and found that it had been ‘cut’ with another cheap and ineffective botanical. We ended up sourcing some genuine Hoodia direct from the grower in South Africa and did some trials but found it to be ineffective so dropped any further work on it.
Unilever created a big stir when they decided to get heavily involved in Hoodia, and this added to the hype. They ultimately came to the conclusion that we did, but not until spending 20 million Euros.
Bottom line! What happened with Irwin’s is inexcusable. As a consumer, if you ever have a doubt about the quality of the product you are taking ask the manufacturer for copies of the lab reports for the testing they have completed on the relevant ingredients. They should be able to give it to you…if they won’t it means they don’t have it in which case they are operating outside the law, or the results are so poor they don’t want you to see it.
For a bit more info on the Irwins case please see “$2.65M settlement reached over CA supplements suit” (from Centre Daily Times)
- "Corporate Greed and Taking Advantage of Kids"