Not what it says on the label?

New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman says his office is pressing GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens to stop selling popular store-brand herbal supplements after lab testing of supplements bought at stores around the state found the products "could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels."

Press release blurbage:

The letters come as DNA testing, performed as part of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General's Office, allegedly shows that, overall, just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products' labels -- with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material. The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products' labels.

The OAG's office says it tested products sold at the four retail chains from 13 regions around the state. (The list doesn't include the Capital Region.)

The tests were conducted by a professor at Clarkson University using a technology called DNA barcoding, which looks for markers representative of the plants said to be in the supplements. It's not the first time the tech has been used to investigate what's in herbal supplements (here's another example from 2013).

The NYT got comment -- or attempted to -- from the four chains, and the reaction ranged from pulling the items to standing behind the quality of the products.

What is -- or isn't -- in herbal supplements, and claims made about the products do, has been a long-running issue related to supplements. The products are under the oversight of the federal Food and Drug Administration, but they're regulated far less strictly than drugs. Efforts to tighten regulation of the products have been rebuffed in part by the work of Utah US Senator Orrin Hatch, who's been a staunch ally of the industry.

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Often, "Buyer Beware" is just not enough.

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