Bill A04712, introduced by the Honorable Linda Rosenthal, seeks to “prohibit any retail establishment from selling dietary supplements that contain creatine to individuals under eighteen years of age; [and] provide that any retail establishment in violation shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars per violation.”
The proposal was greeted with concern from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). In a letter to Rosenthal dated February 10, Ingrid Lebert, CRN’s senior director of government relations, writes: “We are troubled that you are singling out a dietary supplement product with a strong and proven safety record.
“It would appear that this legislation may be based on recommendations from an old report via New Jersey’s Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention. We believe that report over-reached its mandate on illegal-steroid use and prevention and unfairly focused on legal dietary supplements.”
“Readily available in the food supply”
The CRN letter goes on to explain that the naturally occurring amino acid-like compound is made in the liver, kidneys and pancreas and is also readily available in the food supply in, for example, red meat, fish and poultry.
“This popular dietary supplement was introduced to the U.S. market in 1993 and has a large body of evidence demonstrating benefit with no serious adverse effects. The overwhelming majority of the published clinical trials have been positive, with a general consensus showing the safe and beneficial effects from creatine supplementation, particularly during short, repeated bursts of high-intensity activity,” explained Lebert.
“The overall safety and efficacy of creatine supplements, especially the most widely studied creatine monohydrate form, were affirmed by the European Food Safety Authority in 2004 and in a 2007 position stand from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).”
Concerns about the ingredient were raised by a NJ Governor’s Task Force report, which linked creatine to kidney damage. This assertion was based on a total of two published case reports in which the affected individuals were suffering from existing underlying renal disease, explained Lebert.
Serious limitations with the case studies were addressed in the ISSN position stand, she added. “In fact, other, more reliable (i.e. double-blind, randomized, controlled intervention) studies demonstrate the safety of long term creatine use in both healthy individuals and clinical populations, specifically as it relates to renal function. In consideration of this, there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever to support the notion that creatine use may adversely affect kidney function in healthy individuals.”
“Creatine is safe, made to high quality standards and beneficial as shown by the many positive scientific research studies that have been done on this popular performance-enhancing dietary supplement. To paint creatine as a potentially harmful dietary supplement is wrong and unwarranted,” added Lebert.
This is not the first time that a state has attempted to limit access to creatine: New Jersey introduced a creatine bill in 2006-7 (S1951) but it did not pass, while New York has tried to introduce similar bills in previous legislative sessions, including 2001-2 (A10612 and S06336). NY also also tried to impose warnings on energy drinks in 2009-10 (A09754).
Concerns around access of minors to creatine were expressed at the start of 2017 with publication of a paper in Pediatrics: Research personnel posed as 15-year-old high school athletes seeking to increase muscle strength and contacted 244 supplement stores, including national chains and non-national retailers, across the US via telephone.
A total of 164 of 244 sales attendants (67.2%) recommended creatine, 38.5% without prompting, and an additional 28.7% after being asked specifically about it. Regarding availability for sale, 74.2% (181/244) of sales attendants stated a 15-year-old was allowed to purchase creatine, whereas 41.4% (101/244) stated one could purchase a testosterone booster.
The report sparked a range of headlines, including: “Bodybuilding supplement creatine too easy for teens to buy, experts warn” (CBS News), “Some Supplemental Data Revealed on Teen Access to Dietary Supplements by Retailers” (AAP News), and “Report: Dietary aid with creatine is readily sold to minors” (Newsday).
In response to the Pediatrics article, Dr Dan Fabricant, executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), said: “What evidence is there the stores were doing anything incorrectly? If anything, they were recommending a product with a great deal of science behind it. There is no evidence that creatine, when used consistent with the label, is harmful. In fact, creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements on teenage athletes, and its safety record is very well established.
“NPA offers extensive education programs for over 650 retail stores representing over 1,0000 retail members about how to speak to consumers and help them make informed decisions about the safe use of dietary supplements.”
Update: NPA has launched a campaign against the proposed ban and is encouraging the grassroots to write their legislator to oppose Assembly Bill 4712. For more information on this, please click HERE.