Is it not a crime against humanity that man, in his greed to make a fast buck, tries to harm himself by hawking foods with spurious claims of health improvement while actually these products do more harm than good. Why is that every one is helpless to stop this unbridled commercialism in spite of knowing fully well the consequences? Lack of will and legal restraints, probably can be cited as reasons for such inertia in fighting this evil. Is it not a paradox that the very agency that is supposed to protect the consumer throws up its hands expressing a sense of helplessness? While market products are tested routinely and found dangerous by the monitoring agency, except for expressing its concern, nothing worthwhile seems to be happening to arrest this trend. The story of health supplements in the US is indeed interesting to read and here is a take on that.
"Since 2007, the FDA said, it has found nearly 300 products marketed as supplements that contain potentially dangerous or illegal ingredients, most of them sold as diet, weightlifting or sexual enhancement aids. "These tainted products can cause serious adverse effects, including strokes, organ failure and death," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement. "The manufacturers selling these tainted products are operating outside the law." FDA officials did not immediately offer specifics on the number of people thought to have been harmed by tainted supplements. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements don't have to be proven safe before being sold, and manufacturers have wide latitude to make health claims. The FDA's letter notes that manufacturers and distributors are responsible for ensuring that their products comply with the law and provided an e-mail address,TaintedProducts@fda.hhs.gov, to collect tips on suspect activity. Five major trade associations – the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Assn., United Natural Products Alliance, Consumer Healthcare Products Assn. and American Herbal Products Assn. – joined the FDA on a press call to publicize the crackdown. The FDA letter described a laundry list of prohibited ingredients: "FDA laboratory tests have revealed an alarming variety of undeclared active ingredients in products marketed as dietary supplements, including anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin), anticonvulsants (e.g., phenytoin), HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (e.g., lovastatin), phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (e.g., sildenafil), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g., indomethacin), and beta blockers (e.g., propranolol)."
What is amusing is that trade associations whose members are indulging in such activities have taken correct position, at least in the public that they would "fight" the menace jointly with the government! How realistic is such posturing and what can be expected to come out of such "declarations". Of course to a large extent, the consumers are to be blamed for walking into the trap with their eyes wide open, though human weakness for succumbing to "seduction" is the root cause for this cascading epidemic. One can only hope that the threat of severe action against manufacturers as well as the traders who indulge in promoting unsafe products would have salutary effect. If this is the fate of a country with most powerful safety agency in the world, how about countries like India where breach of safety protocols is more a rule than an exception!