Despite concerns, no dietary supplement oversight imminent

Although levels of heavy metal found in dietary supplements by the U.S. Government Accountability Office measure less than thresholds considered dangerous, 40 percent of those tested contained pesticide residues that appear to exceed legal limits. Yet a bill about to be debated on Capitol Hill is unlikely to include provisions opposed by supplement manufacturers, reports The New York Times.

Congress gave supplement makers a pass on FDA approval of ingredients in 1994, setting a double standard for the quality controls that govern drugs and food versus those in the nether region of dietary supplements. And since then, the major supply of supplement ingredients used in U.S. products has shifted to China.

At least one lawmaker now wants greater FDA oversight of the supplements business. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) says the FDA "needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe as perceived by Americans," according to the Times article.

Steve Mister, president of a dietary supplement industry group, says consumers should not be concerned. Herbal supplements contain trace amounts of heavy metals, he says, because they are present in soil and plants. FDA's principal deputy commissioner, Joshua Sharfstein, apparently agrees. He says he's unconcerned about the safety of the supplements tested., however, which has tested the supplements of 300 manufacturers, has found quality problems in 25 percent of them. Tod Cooperman, president, says they often contain less of the ingredients claimed on labels and contain such heavy metal contaminants as mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

- here's the article