The Crux Of The Story
To create this two-part story, Couric relied on the journalistic ability of correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi, author of Natural Causes, Dan Hurley, Steve Mister, President of the Council of Responsible Nutrition and David Seckman of the Natural Products Association. While I am sure Ms. Alfonsi, intended to present both sides respectfully, I believe that the main issue itself was marred with oversight.
While there are several errors in the two-part story, the most glaring is the notion promoted by the shows producers that dietary supplements are unregulated, unproven and unsafe. This is simply untrue, and more suspicious because Ms. Alfonsi appeared to make these issues the central theme of her “investigation”.
Ms. Alfonsi stirred up the controversy over footage of actor Mel Gibson from a 1993 ad by stating that, “In 1993, the FDA was on the verge of enforcing a truth-in-labeling regulation for dietary supplements. The industry struck back with commercials like this.”
Excuse me, but for those who missed it, the Mel Gibson ad campaign was the first high profile piece that alerted consumers that their right to choose dietary supplements was at risk. Basically, the ad made it clear that if you do not want vitamins, minerals and herbs regulated, then write your congressman.
Industry Regulation Misunderstood
The result of the dietary supplement 1993 initiative to keep their products available to the public was Congress passing the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).
Evidently, this congressional action was not good enough for Dan Hurley. This seems dubious on two accounts; 1) Hurley argues that most supplements don’t work, are not scientifically supported and he says that some can even be harmful and yet 2) Hurley believes congress caved because of the massive written public response, reportedly more than those who were against the Vietnam War. So according to Hurley, a lot of Americans passionately want the right to use dietary supplements, yet they don’t get any benefits. Puzzling?
Appearing on camera with Alfonsi in a pharmacy, Hurley insisted that the bill “protects the manufacturers” at the cost of consumers. As a reference; the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) set up a regulatory structure for dietary supplements, giving them a different space for regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
They are neither foods nor drugs, but a unique area – partially because the FDA has not promulgated specific regulatory guidance. Under the definition of DSHEA, dietary supplements can even be in conventional food form. This has helped increase growth in the market for functional foods.
DSHEA does not, however, allow manufacturers or advertisers to make “false promises” or “bogus claims” about the products they sell. It is simply inconceivable how Alfonsi and CBS could have missed this key piece to the entire argument against supplements.
Congressional Findings On Dietary Supplements
To add insult to injury, not only did CBS fail to mention the details of the FDA’s role within the guidelines of DSHEA, they actually produced the type of negative programming that Congress regarded as detrimental when the Act was passed.
Simple fact checking reveals that when Congress passed DSHEA in 1994, lawmakers emphasized the importance of communicating the positive health benefits of supplements to the American public.
In Addition Congress Highlighted:
The importance of nutrition and the benefits of dietary supplements in health promotion and disease prevention, as documented increasingly in scientific studies.
The link between ingestion of certain nutrients or dietary supplements and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Education, good nutrition, and the appropriate use of safe nutritional supplements as preventive health measures that limit the incidence of chronic diseases and reduce long-term health care expenditures.
The importance of informing and empowering consumer choice by disseminating data from scientific studies that demonstrate the health benefits related to particular dietary supplements.
The growing need to disseminate information linking nutrition and long-term good health.
DSHEA protects consumers’ right of access to safe dietary supplements as necessary in order to promote wellness.
Dietary supplements are safe within a broad range of intake protocols, and safety problems with supplements are relatively rare.
The federal government’s powers to take swift action against products that are unsafe or adulterated balanced by the understanding it should not impose unreasonable regulatory barriers limiting or slowing the flow of safe products and accurate information to consumers.
DSHEA provides a rational framework to supersede the ad hoc, patchwork regulatory policy on dietary supplements.
This article is for information only, it IS NOT questioning the quality or factual evidence shown on each of the product labels quoted. We do not accept responsibility for influencing your judgement when buying protein powder in future. We wanted to show how various different protein and whey supplements compare, including Extreme Protein and [...]
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