Natural Products Association slams supplements 'smear campaign'06 August 2012
US trade body The Natural Products Association has accused consumer affairs organisation Consumer Reports of participating in a 'smear campaign' against the industry after the publication’s September edition featured a damning assessment of the industry's scientific evidence base for making health claims and safety record.
The report claims that US citizens are potentially putting their health in danger because they are not fully aware of the risks of taking supplements and as a result of prescription drugs being miss-sold as supplements. The piece also questions the safety and effectiveness of supplements such as Omega-3 and reports of poor labelling standards in the industry.
Dr Jose Luis Mosquera, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser said: “Patients sometimes assume that supplements are safe because they are 'all natural,' but not all supplements are truly natural. In fact, one of the greatest safety hazards to consumers involves supplements that have been spiked with prescription drugs or toxic metals."
However, John Shaw, The Natural Products Association's executive director and chief executive refuted the claims made in the report: "Consumer Reports distorts the facts with just another smear campaign against dietary supplements.
"Data from the government shows that supplements have an excellent safety record, especially considering the millions of supplements sold annually. Nothing in Consumer Reports should convince anyone to stop taking their supplements.
"Supplements are foods, not drugs. If a product makes disease claims or includes a drug, then it's not a supplement. The legitimate supplement industry who we represent wants the criminals selling these illegal drugs out of business.
"Tens of thousands of Americans depend on this industry for jobs. They are dedicated to supporting the healthy lifestyles of millions of people."
Shaw also criticised Consumer Reports for singling out the dangers of choking on supplements: "The article offers advice on how to avoid choking. While this is no laughing matter, someone could choke anytime swallowing anything, not just supplements. This is another example of fear-mongering by Consumer Reports and using this issue as an argument against taking supplements is insulting to consumers."
Meanwhile, Cara Welch, the Natural Products Association's senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs said that Consumer Reports was itself guilty of manipulating scientific to make claims: "Consumer Reports makes the obvious points that nothing is risk-free and too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing. Furthermore, it relies on disputed and inaccurate studies to draw the wrong conclusions. Consumers deserve better."
"For example, the American Heart Association has recommended a diet high in omega-3s and supplementation for those who cannot get enough from their diet. In addition, the federal government itself has approved health claims for supplements, such as associating vitamin D and calcium intake with a reduced risk of osteoporosis."
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