GNC to Test Supplements After Charges of 'Phony' Products

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Herbal Supplements Investigation
Mark Lennihan/AP
After bruising allegations that top retailers were cheating consumers by selling herbal supplements that didn't contain what they claimed, the nutritional supplement and vitamin retail giant GNC (GNC) reached an agreement Monday with New York's attorney general announced that puts in place rigorous testing.

The company has resumed sales of all its supplements.

Experts said GNC is far exceeding the industry standard and what is required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which frequently flags supplements that are mislabeled or dangerous. The company said it wanted to eliminate any doubt that its products are safe and as advertised and agreed to post displays in all 6,000 of its stores documenting what's in the supplements.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-When it comes to consumer health, we expect companies to reach a high safety bar.%"When consumers take an herbal supplement, they should be able to do so with full knowledge of what is in that product and confidence that every precaution was taken to ensure its authenticity and purity," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. "When it comes to consumer health, we expect companies to reach a high safety bar."

In addition to the steps the company is going to take, GNC provided the attorney general with independent testing that showed its supplements exceed federal requirements.

"As our testing demonstrated, and this agreement affirms beyond any doubt, our products are not only safe and pure but are in full compliance with all regulatory requirements," said GNC Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Archbold said in a statement. "As an industry leader we have always gone above and beyond the minimum requirements in pursuing quality for our consumers, and we will continue to lead the efforts for higher standards. This is good for consumers, good for the industry, and good for GNC."

GNC -- along with Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Walgreens (WBA) -- were accused last month of selling consumers herbal supplements often without a trace of the herbs that were supposed to be inside. Instead, many of the supplements were made up of cheap filler or other ingredients not listed on the label.

That not only deceived consumers, but also potentially put people at risk of consuming products that could be allergic to without knowing that's what they were swallowing. Schneiderman's office issued cease and desist letters to the retailers to halt sales of the questionable supplements.

GNC's response to the New York investigation, which shook up the supplement industry nationwide, was seen as a significant response and one that will benefit those who consume such products.

Meanwhile, GNC said it will use the testing to help it defend itself against a spate of lawsuits filed after the Attorney General's Office announced its findings last month.
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