Medical experts in Australia are urging the government to test dietary supplements before they are allowed to be sold in the country because current standards are too lax and allow dangerous products on the market.
A review conducted by the University of Adelaide, Murdoch University and Curtin University found that most Australians see herbal products as harmless. But a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that some herbal remedies sold in the country contain chemicals, natural toxins, heavy metals or pesticides. Because regulation of dietary supplements and vitamins is not as stringent as for medicines and pharmaceutical products, manufacturers continue to sell products that contain dangerous ingredients that do not comply with Australian regulations.
“In some cases, ingredients are either not listed or their concentrations are recorded inaccurately on websites or labels,” the study’s authors wrote. “Most worryingly, a few products are illegally adulterated with standard pharmaceuticals to increase the effectiveness of the herbal product.”
“We feel it would be appropriate for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to require manufacturers to have samples independently tested before placing them on the market,” said Roger Byard, the study’s lead author and University of Adelaide professor.
These so-called natural remedies have caused serious and life threatening injuries not only in Australia but also in other countries. Like the TGA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s hands are tied when it comes to regulating dietary supplements. The agency is cracking down on illicit manufacturers as it can, but cautions consumers to be mindful of the potential risks with nutritional supplements.