We have seen enough of lax dietary supplement regulation. If companies aren’t willing to behave responsibly on their own, stricter rules have to be enforced.
We Are Unaware, Unaware!
When it comes to supplements, we are living in interesting and for some people apparently rather fatal times: First we have Jack3d with potentially three deaths linked to it, then Monster Energy with possibly another five.
What would you do if you sold a product about which you hear these reports? Would you feel a moral obligation to investigate this as closely as possible? Would you do your utmost to prevent people from being harmed by something you are responsible for? I would, but then again I may not be sociopathic enough to survive in what today constitutes the healthy health business environment (excuse the pun).
Because out there, in the real world, things are a bit different. Monster Energy Corp., the company behind the popular drink of the same name, claims “unawareness of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks” and USPlabs, behind Jack3d, states being “unaware of anyone that died who has used the product in accordance with the labels’ directions for use.”
Well, if nobody ever looked it’s easy to claim unawareness. Because under current supplement regulations they weren’t required to establish safety of their products before selling them and to my knowledge they also never did so out of their own accord. For DMAA, the potentially dangerous ingredient in Jack3d, there isn’t even a toxicological profile – how USPlabs came up with their directions is anyone’s guess.
Supplements Or Beverages?
On the other hand, how far does that unawareness really go? It is remarkable that right after the FDA stepped up their controls on energy drinks, Monster and Rockstar, another company in that market, decided that their products aren’t dietary supplements after all, but beverages.
Why then did they for ten years do their utmost to make their products appear vastly different from regular soft drinks?
According to a Rockstar representative one reason for the switch was that “consumers found food labels easier to read.” It then surely is coincidental that when their former energy supplement becomes a beverage, they aren’t required anymore to tell federal regulators about reports potentially linking their products to deaths and injuries.
If Supplements Were Cars
Maybe I’m too cynical, but to me this awfully looks like using regulatory loopholes as long as possible. Loopholes that in other areas were closed long ago. In the automobile industry, for example, it’s enough to have a possible flaw in seatbelt attachments for a company to recall 200,000 vehicles.
If the supplement industry built cars, they’d claim the customer went through the windshield because he didn’t close the seatbelt properly and they are unaware of any deaths caused by their seatbelts.
It’s time for supplement companies to either start behaving responsibly or for considerably tougher regulation.
Picture courtesy of Steven Depolo.