Monday, July 02, 2007

Wild world of nutrition supplements to get just a little oversight

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 25 announced new rules for the manufacture of dietary supplements, which will help ensure that they they have proper labels and contain what their labels say. The announcement is accompanied by instructions for public comments.

Despite the new rules, nutrition supplements are still wildly unregulated by comparison to drugs. Under a controversial 1994 law known as the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), Congress denied FDA the power to regulate existing dietary supplements as pharmaceuticals and prevented FDA from requiring manufacturers to prove that supplements are safe or effective (see the mildly stated FDA view of this limitation and a quote from the Consumers Union).

Leading nutrition researchers, such as Alice Lichtenstein and Robert Russell here at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, have spoken out with increasing vigor in recent years about the importance of getting nutrients from real foods (see a scholarly statement of their views and a Tufts news article).

[Update: another colleague here points out the pace of the federal government's progress on this issue: the new rule took 13 years to prepare and it will be another 1-3 years for implementation.]

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