A group of attorneys general is expected to announce on Tuesday that they are forming a coalition to crack down on fraud and quality control issues in the herbal supplement industry.
The coalition would signal a shift in the way law enforcement agencies ensure the safety of herbal supplements, a $5 billion-a-year industry that has been plagued by complaints of mislabeling. An investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office led to accusations last month that four national retailers were selling supplements that contained either little or none of the medicinal herbs advertised on their labels or, in many cases, included cheap fillers and contaminants like powdered rice, wheat and houseplants.
The retailers — GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens — were forced to pull the products from their shelves. The state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, later issued subpoenas to the manufacturers of the products, demanding that they explain how they verify the quality of their products and what testing they do to support a variety of claims on their labels, like “gluten free” and “hypoallergenic.”