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Dietary supplement labeling act

Durbin 'Dietary Supplement Labeling Act' to reward FDA for failures and punish responsible supplement producers

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: dietary supplement labeling act, FDA, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new bill introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), S. 1310, the "Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011," threatens to undermine the dietary supplement industry by giving the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more power over it, despite the agency's failure to enforce existing laws that are already on the books.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, has come out in opposition to the bill, saying it will essentially "punish all responsible companies with its overreaching mandates."

The introduction of S. 1310 is allegedly a response to the sale of "Lazy Cakes," a brownie food that contains an added supplement melatonin, but that is currently being illegitimately sold as a regular food item in grocery stores and night clubs.

But rather than properly handle the situation like it is tasked to do under current law, the FDA has decided to simply let the product remain on the market. And instead of the agency being reprimanded or held accountable for its error, some lawmakers are actually suggesting that the FDA be given more unnecessary power under S. 1310 (http://www.anh-usa.org/melatonin-cakes-and-t...).

"The bill contains requirements that already exist under current law that give FDA the proper legal authority to take action to protect consumers and maintain safety standards," writes CRN in a recent press release. "FDA needs to continue working toward becoming a more efficient steward of its resources, and we continuously call on the Agency to use its power under the law."

Because Lazy Cakes contains a food additive that has not received pre-market approval demonstrating its safety, the product cannot legally be sold as "food." So the FDA has a responsibility, in this case, to require that its manufacturer either relabel the product as a dietary supplement, or else require that it no longer be sold -- and the FDA has the power to handle this situation right at this moment without the needed for more power.

Interestingly, none of the provisions in S. 1310 have anything to do with issues surrounding the illegal sale of Lazy Cakes -- they all apply to supplement manufacturers, the vast majority of whom produce safe, effective products in accordance with current law. The producers of Lazy Cakes are basically selling a "supplement" product as a food, which current law prohibits -- and the FDA could choose to take action against the company for its violations, but for whatever reason it is choosing not to.

S. 1310 appears to be nothing more than an assault against the supplement industry disguised as an effort to improve supplement safety. And the FDA's lax response to Lazy Cakes is perhaps an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the dietary supplement industry in order to push for more control over it. Based on their previous actions, both the FDA and Sen. Durbin have demonstrated blatant animosity towards the supplement industry, so it is no surprise to see S. 1310 introduced on their behalf.

Provisions in S. 1310 include burdensome registration requirements for all supplement manufacturers, "enhanced" labeling requirements that mandate the disclosure of proprietary supplement blends, and new legal definitions for "supplements" and "conventional foods." In the end, these provisions grant the FDA more control over supplements, and make it that much more difficult for honest supplement manufacturers to conduct business.

Instead of giving the FDA more power over dietary supplements, how about holding the agency accountable for its current industry responsibilities? And if the FDA is unable to adequately perform the even the duties it has already been tasked with, perhaps it is time to remove dietary supplements from its regulatory arsenal altogether.

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