- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On July 29, The Washington Times published an opinion piece that called my legislation to help consumers distinguish between dietary supplements that are safe and others that contain potentially dangerous ingredients a “war on vitamins” (“The coming war on vitamins”). I see this issue quite differently.

I believe that informed consumers should have the right to choose those safe supplements they believe will make them healthy. (And, for the record, I took my vitamin this morning.) But I oppose mislabeling products and making health claims that have no scientific basis.

I oppose marketing supplements with impure or incorrectly identified ingredients and ignoring the adverse effects some supplements can have on children and those with specific medical conditions. Did we fail to learn any lessons from ephedra?

There is a product on the market now that is escaping regulation as an adulterated food by marketing itself as a “dietary supplement.” One week after my concerns were dismissed over the marketing of Lazy Cakes, which are now being sold as “Lazy Larry Brownies,” melatonin-spiked brownies could be found on store shelves right next to conventional food and beverages. The product makers were warned by the Food and Drug Administration. These lazy firms have 15 days to either justify their action or take this potentially dangerous product off the market.

Pundits can continue to front for big manufacturers, but the truth is that our current system does not provide the basic protection every American consumer deserves.

SEN. RICHARD J. DURBIN

Illinois Democrat

Washington