Study: Most Herbal Supplements Contaminated

Crackdown unlikely to make it into food safety bill
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2010 6:27 AM CDT
Study: Most Herbal Supplements Contaminated
Around a quarter of Americans use herbal supplements.   (Shutter Stock)

Herbal supplements are often contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals, and sellers are prone to making illegal claims about their health benefits, a congressional study has found. Almost all 40 dietary supplements tested had trace amounts of contaminants like lead and mercury, and 16 of the samples contained pesticide residues exceeding legal limits, the New York Times reports.

The study will be presented at a Senate hearing today ahead of debate on a sweeping food safety bill. "The FDA needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe and effective as is widely perceived by the Americans who take them,” said Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. Supplement manufacturers, however, have stepped up lobbying efforts, and insiders on Capitol Hill say it's unlikely that any provisions the $25 billion-a-year industry opposes will make it into the bill.
(More FDA stories.)

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