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Supplements book draws fierce response from industry

By staff reporter , 16-Jan-2007

A newly published book has incited backlash from trade associations within the dietary supplements industry for its critical portrayal of regulatory controls and safety. In the past, the industry's respectable face has worked hard to distance itself from less legitimate factions.

Marketed as investigative journalism, Natural Causes by Dan Hurley looks at the growth of the dietary supplement industry, which he claims is largely built on fraud, and points to a supposedly unregulated and dangerous side of these products.

The findings outlined in the book are in line with the opinions of critics of the dietary supplement industry who allege it is industry is unregulated, which trade associations have fought back in the past by saying such accusations are based on sensationalism of rare cases and the not the behavior of the industry as a whole.

 

Dietary supplements in the United States are regulated under DSHEA (Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act), an amendment to the Food and Cosmetics Act. Although critics call it the law that deregulated supplements, industry groups have consistently upheld it as a good law and said that its full enaction provides sufficient safeguards for consumers. The final piece to come into effect is the Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines - long anticipated, but hoped by many to finally see the light of day this year.

 

Indeed, Hurley claims it was backroom politics that led to the passage of DSHEA and that the law "effectively freed the industry from FDA oversight".

 

According to CRN president and CEO, Steve Mister, Hurley relies primarily on "personal opinion and isolated incidents to falsely imply that these cases represent the experience of the more than 150 million Americans who take safe, beneficial dietary supplements as part of their healthy lifestyle choices."

 

CRN points to the book's footnotes as representing the author's absence of science in drawing its conclusions.

 

"The book includes more than 200 footnotes, but a cursory examination shows the author repeatedly footnotes his own inquiries, other people's opinions and people who spoke anonymously," said Mister. "This is not the bibliography of a serious piece of work."

 

Mister insinuates that the sensationalism which drove interest in cases such as that of now banned herbal Ephedra, is behind the marketing of Natural Causes.

 

"The book Natural Causes cannot be considered a credible, scientific work," said Mister. "This is an assortment of extreme anecdotes that exploit rare and tragic misfortunes in an agenda-driven attempt to sell books."

 

In drawing his argument against Natural Causes, Mister also cited what he opinioned as Hurley's lack of knowledge on dietary supplements. In the book's opening chapter, Hurley examines the use of bloodroot as a topical ointment for treating cancer. Bloodroot, when used as a salve, is not a dietary supplement.

 

"He either has an appalling lack of understanding about even the most fundamental aspects of dietary supplements, or purposely chooses to mislead consumers in order to draw his conclusions," said Mister.

 

Natural Causes has not been reviewed by NutraIngredients-USA.com.