Attorneys general from 14 states are calling on Congress to investigate the herbal supplements industry after a report from New York’s top prosecutor that alleged many products contained ingredients that were not listed on their labels and that could pose serious health risks.

The group, led by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, asked Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to oversee the industry.

“We believe the safety and efficacy of these supplements is a matter of deep public concern across the country,” the attorneys general said in a letter Thursday to lawmakers.

In February, Schneiderman sent letters to General Nutrition Corp., Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walgreen Co., demanding that they stop selling their store-brand herbal supplements. His office alleged that 79 percent of products tested from the four retailers had no DNA of the plants listed on the labels or were contaminated by wheat, pine, rice, beans and other materials.

But Schneiderman’s testing method – DNA bar-coding – was criticized by the supplement industry and outside experts.

In a settlement Monday, Schneiderman’s office cleared GNC to sell some of its most popular products, including echinacea, ginseng and St. John’s Wort.

State investigators found “no evidence” that GNC had deviated from Food and Drug Administration standards. However, the two sides disagree on whether federal rules for authenticating herbal supplements are sufficient.


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