By LOUIS FLORES
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-New York) sent cease and desist letters on Tuesday to four major retailers, asking the merchants to stop selling popular over-the-counter herbal supplements in New York state that the Attorney General's Office found to have inaccurate product ingredient labels.
Tests conducted by the Attorney General's Office found that makers of popular herbal supplements, such as Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others, either did not contain the ingredients that were on the product labeling, or else the product contained ingredients that were not found on the product labeling.
“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear : the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” Attorney General Schneiderman said, in part, in a statement, adding that, "The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry. Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health.”
The cease and desist letters were issued to Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and GNC.
Attorney General Schneiderman's unexpected actions against the manufacturers and retailers of popular herbal supplements comes against a backdrop of questions about his unrelated investigation of another popular manufacturer and independent retailer of herbal products, Herbalife Ltd.
As Progress Queens has reported, the State Attorney General's Office is investigating claims that Herbalife may be conducting questionable business practices, including complaints that it may be operating as a pyramid scheme. At the same time that the State Attorney General's Office has been conducting its investigation into Herbalife, the consulting firm of Attorney General Scheiderman's chief political advisor and ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, has been retained to do consulting work on behalf of Herbalife, creating a possible conflict of interest.
It's not known how Attorney General Schneiderman could launch an action against the makers and retailers of herbal products, but not loop in its concurrent investigation of Herbalife.
Distributors and supporters of Herbalife have made questionable product claims in the British press, claiming that Herbalife products can either cure or treat cancer, which reports can be found conducting searches on social media platforms such as Twitter or on Web portals, such as Google.
In the American media, ABC News broadcast a report in 2014 where undercover ABC News reporters captured on video a Staten Island distributor of Herbalife products claiming that a woman's brain tumor disappeared after she began consuming Herbalife products.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Schneiderman did not immediately answer a request for comment for this article. If any response is received, then that information shall appear in a future update.