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Industry after Smiling Bob: Your views

Related tags Natural products industry Dietary supplement

At the end of last month, the founder of US supplements firm Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals received the most severe punishment yet to be handed out for fraud in the industry: A 25-year jail sentence and $93,000 from his personal savings. The company was ordered to forfeit $500m.

The offence was selling male sexual enhancement products under false pretenses. To read the article on the sentencing, click here​.

NutraIngredients gathered your comments on this historic decision.

Fighting for integrity

“The Warshak verdict is historic in its severity, however I would argue not unfairly so (…) This company appears to have done almost everything wrong that a company operating under the DSHEA regulatory scheme could possibly do (…)

“It is hard to calculate what damage this case will cause to our industry at large. Nevertheless, what is clear is that the responsible core of the natural products industry will now unfortunately need to expend additional energies, and resources, to rightly (and further) distance itself from these kinds of fringe operators going forward.” James J. Gormley Senior Policy Advisor, Citizens for Health

“I can only hope that this conviction will send all the ‘snake oil salesmen’, who are peddling bogus products with outrageous claims, running for cover and out of our industry. It would seem that only the most intrepid of these opportunists will now be willing to risk the severe consequences that the government has shown it can and will enforce to protect consumers and honest companies.”Rod TallmanCEO, Life Span Labs

“I must say that I am quite pleased about this decision. It will make people take notice and think twice about making false claims. Our industry has had a bad name long enough and it is time to make it more scientific based.” Robert RadoffGlobal Clinicals

Learn the lesson

“As someone who oversees quality for a neutraceutical company, I for one am very pleased with the verdict. I have dealt with many a supplier who claims to be a 'leader' in the industry who supplies 'top quality' material only to find out that they are dealing in sub-par or adulterated ingredients (…)

“To betray the trust of those that have asked us for help is, in my honest opinion, unimaginable (…) Making money is the cornerstone of any business, but when integrity and honesty take a backseat in order to make a profit you have lost the very essence of why we are here.”Lloyd Lirio QA/QC Scientist , Herbasway Laboratories

“As a long-time retailer of nutritional supplements, let me say flat-out that the industry is absolutely riddled with misinformation deliberately peddled to retailers, who often don't know any better than to turn right around and pass it on to their customers. I'm not just talking about Berkeley Nutraceuticals and the other ‘bad apples’. I'm talking about some of the most established, respected members of this industry, sold in Whole Foods, distributed by UNFI, members of NPA, etc. And as long as their transgressions are not too egregious, these enablers nonchalantly look the wrong way.

“I could fill entire books full of the sheer lies that I've been told, the distortions of the truth, the deliberate misinterpretation of scientific data so as to sell, sell, sell. And nobody seems willing to take a stand - except for the anti-supplement fundamentalists, who seem to think that anything with a 'supplements facts' label is useless, dangerous, or both.

“So let's be honest here about what needs cleaning up. It's not just 'them': The evil mega-super-ultra-XXXtreme energy pills you buy at the gas station with the picture of the bikini babe on the package. It's also us: The friendly, herbal, organic, 100% recycled us.”Adam StarkDirector of Stuff, Adam Herbs

“When it comes to nutrients, health claims and what else can be regulated, EU has become ex ante​ territory. You make no move unless Authority approved it. The USA is still ex post​ territory. You go ahead, but when the sheriff catches you, he throws you in jail (…)

“What’s the better system? Europe or USA? Where are consumers better protected? I would vote for America, for the simple reason that the downside of ex ante​ over-regulation is that it also kills good and legitimate products (…)

“When you let our [authorities] do the cleaning up, consumers run the risk of under-exposure and deficiencies. When you let the courts do the cleaning up, consumers are led to perceive the [food supplements] industry as a bunch of crooks selling redundant and worthless products. A good argument to stop spending money on supplements.

“The outcome may be the same, but at least, in the US situation, industry does have a chance to clean up before the sheriff knocks at the door. For the true entrepreneurs among us, that’s a greater and more rewarding challenge than filling in health claim forms.”Bert SchwittersThe International Nutrition Company


“In my opinion, unfortunately, [the verdict] will cause much stir and give some additional power to ‘clean up’ the dietary supplement scene - at the hands of politics and the powerful pharmaceutical companies. The sad part of it is that both medical research and pharmaceutical companies seem to fall under a different set of rules and never get into trouble for promising to ‘cure’ medical problems, even if the ‘cure’ causes death from side effects (…)

“Who REALLY needs cleaning up? Not the supplement industry, but the ones who are holding the power. It's time to look at the whole Western Medical System, the various government offices and boards of directors and the pharmaceutical industry (…)”Jacquelyn A. Pressly Registered Dietician, Pressly Lifestyle Designs

“I am appalled at the amount of fraudulent supplement companies marketing their products as being healthy. I believe they ought to have the full extent of punishment on the books given to them. That being said, however, I fear even more the legislation that the pharmaceutical companies are considering by making all supplements outlawed or made a prescription item so they can make more money (…)

“I believe that proper education of the public is the best way to handle the whole situation. ‘Buyer Beware.’ Check out the companies you buy from, make sure their supplements are standardized and pharmaceutical grade. It may take more time and be a little more expensive, but (…) I think the effort is well worth it.”Lynnea GreenhawConsumer

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