NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are Food Supplements Safe?

November 23, 1998

More than 100 million Americans are using dietary supplements, and there has been greater scrutiny regarding the safety of such products and calls for greater regulations.

But there are two assumptions being made that are faulty, says the supplement industry: that dietary supplements are unsafe and that more regulation is the cure. For instance, the industry claims there has been only a minuscule number of reports of adverse reactions to supplements.

  • The Food and Drug Administration has tracked adverse reactions to dietary supplements since 1993 and has a total of approximately 2,500 in its database.
  • By the FDA's admonition, there is "no certainty that a reported adverse event can be attributed to a particular product or ingredient."
  • And, in any event, regulation does not necessarily equal safety; for instance, a recently published study found that reactions to prescription medications caused more than 100,000 deaths and 2.2 million injuries in a single year.

Industry representatives note that Jane Henney, recently appointed FDA commissioner, was quoted as saying during confirmation hearings that the current law "provides adequate statutory authority to protect the public health."

Source: Michael Q. Ford (executive director, National Nutritional Foods Association), USA Today, November 23, 1998.


Browse more articles on Government Issues