Lawsuit Claims GNC Herbal Supplements Are Not Herbal

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Lawsuit Claims GNC Herbal Supplements Are Not Herbal

A federal court in Miami is gearing up for a potential class action suit that alleges herbal supplements sold and advertised at GNC stores as herbal supplements weren’t really herbal at all.

In February 2015, the New York state attorney general’s office notified the Pittsburgh-based company to discontinue selling products that may be adulterated or mislabeled. Cease-and-desist letters requiring more detailed information about ingredients and ingredient-verification procedures went to GNC, Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. While these four companies stopped selling the products in question in New York, Wal-mart and GNC have continued selling them elsewhere.

The Miami lawsuit targets these four dietary supplement products manufactured by GNC: GNC Plus Gingko Biloba, GNC Herbal Plus St. John’s Wort, GNC Herbal Plus Ginseng and GNC Herbal Plus Echinacea.  So, if they aren’t herbal what’s in them?  According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Kelly Reyes and others, the products may contain rice, garlic, wheat/grass, pine or no plant substances whatsoever.

According to the Attorney General’s press release, just 21% of test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels. Only 4% of Wal-Mart products showed the correct plant DNA in testing. In contrast, 35% of product tests identified DNA from plant species that were not included on the label or ingredients list.

The lawsuit seeks punitive and other damages based on five causes of action: violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, unjust enrichment, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of express warranty and negligence.

What makes this matter important, besides the obvious matter of fraud and mislabeling, is the potential for danger that lurks within the product for anybody with allergies to the unlabeled ingredients.

In the United States, allergies to wheat is one of the eight top food allergens.  A child or adult with wheat allergy who accidently ingests wheat may develop symptoms within minutes to hours.  Wheat allergy symptoms include:

  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis

The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.

Did you buy mislabeled herbal supplements?

If you bought any of these dietary supplements and suffered damages our personal injury lawyers at Wolf & Pravato would like to hear from you. You can contact one of our attorneys by filling out our online form or calling toll-free (844) 334-1783.

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