More lead testing confirms product safety, says Herbalife

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Herbalife

Supplements firm Herbalife has said that additional testing it
commissioned confirms that its products do not contain dangerous
levels of lead, reiterating that recent allegations against the
firm were "inaccurate" and "misleading".

The allegations, made last month by the Fraud Discovery Institute (FDI), claimed that six Herbalife products contained more than 0.5mg per day of lead and could lead to health concerns. Herbalife at the time told NutraIngerdients-USA.com that its own lab tests contradicted those referenced by FDI, but said that it would conduct further investigations of its own following the allegations. The company yesterday announced that the additional testing by Covance in the US and Eurofins in the EU confirmed the safety of its products. Scare tactics "It's very easy to create fear by using words like 'lead' and 'dangerous' together, and then add the word 'children' to make it even scarier,"​ said Herbalife chief scientific officer Dr Steve Henig. "It's a fact that many natural and processed foods including vegetables and dairy products as well as our products, which are made with natural ingredients, contain extremely small amounts of naturally occurring lead that can be detected by today's highly sensitive analytical methods but are insignificant in posing any risk to consumers." Testing ​ Last month, FDI reported independent testing carried out in Swiss and Israeli labs that found the Herbalife weight loss products breached Californian Proposition 65 permitted levels and therefore the products should carry warning labels. Proposition 65 is a controversial, and some would say, anachronistic, Californian law enacted in 1986 that lists 800 potential contaminants, many of which are considered safe under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) law. According to Herbalife, the retesting of multiple product batches contradicts FDI's findings, confirming that the products do not contain lead levels that would require labeling under Proposition 65. Fraud discovery​Herbalife has also stressed that its products are in accordance with FDA regulations, which are not always the same as Proposition 65 guidelines. This discrepancy has led to the Californian rule being criticized for creating a two-tier system that only creates confusion for both business and consumers alike. Proposition 65 has also been criticized as being a law that is open to exploitation via the rift it creates with federal rules. One legal firm said the law was open to exploitation by "litigation bounty hunters".​ Herbalife implied that FDI had ulterior financial motives for the allegations. It said that the group's founder, Barry Minkow, "admits profiting from 'puts' on Herbalife stock". ​ Indeed, Reuters reported in May that Minkow had invested in Herbalife in such a way that if its shares went down, which they did, he stood to make substantial gains. Minkow served more than seven years in prison for fraud, said Reuters. The products ​ The six products named by FDI were ShapeWorks Protein Drink Mix, Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix, Tang Kuei Plus herbal tablets, Thermojetics Nature's Raw Guarana instant tea mix, ShapeWorks Cell Activator and Multivitamin Complex. In response to an inquiry by NutraIngredients-USA.com, Eurofins said it was unable to provide further information or clarification on the testing it undertook, as this was confidential. Covance would not comment.

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