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Testimony Before the House Committee on Government Reform on the Regulation of Dietary Supplements: a Review of Consumer Safeguards

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) created serious regulatory loopholes that have opened the floodgates to thousands of untested dietary supplement products. Benefits and risks do not have to be established before these products are brought to market, manufactures are not required to disclose when their products cause harm, and the law requires the FDA to first prove that a supplement creates “a significant or unreasonable risk,” before it can demand its removal from the market. Many dietary supplements — including most vitamins and minerals taken within recommended limits — are safe, and can have important health benefits for consumers. However, there are a significant and growing number of questionable products that likely would not be allowed on the market if they were subject to pre-market safety testing. Because there are no requirements that a dietary supplement be proven safe and effective before going on the market, it is very difficult for consumers to determine which products are safe and worth consuming, and which are ineffective and/or dangerous.