US health retailers target of Government “witch hunt”

US health store retailers have been recorded making “deceptive or questionable” marketing claims, reports Natural Food Merchandiser. But the magazine’s editor, Pamela Bond, says the methods used by the authorities amounts to a “witch hunt” of retailers.

As part of a US government investigation into whether dietary supplements contain harmful authorities, the Government Accountability Office taped conversations between its “secret shoppers” and health food retailers (both bricks and mortar stores and online retailers).

The taped conversations revealed that some store staff making misleading claims about supplements, or claiming that products would cure particular conditions (under US Law it is illegal to claim that a supplement will diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease).

In her blog, Bond accepts fully that the examples quoted are “not good”. But she says retailers are being unfairly singled out. She writes: “…is the witch hunt against retailers fair when supplements also are often misrepresented by the media and by scientists who seem to want to discourage the use of supplements?”

Bond adds: “… not only should retailers be held responsible for false or misleading claims, so too should researchers, for-profit testing companies and news organizations.”