The concept of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is logical. Because our lives are at stake, certainly there should be safety standards for ingredients and inspectors to protect us from unscrupulous manufacturers and careless operators. Such an agency should be free of pressure from special interests; base its decisions on the totality of science; and use a fair standard in choosing priorities. That is the vision.
In 1994, the FDA was caught twisting laws to justify its attack on supplements. Legislators slapped the agency’s hands with a new law called the Dietary Health and Education Act (DSHEA). In addition to giving the FDA greater power to protect the consumers by allowing them to pull dangerous products and institute good manufacturing requirements, DSHEA also clarified current law to theoretically stop the FDA from capriciously banning high-dose vitamin pills and familiar supplements like CoQ10.
DSHEA is often mischaracterized by the media as tying the FDA’s hands, but it was passed because citizens expressed sufficient outrage to get the attention of legislators that then became much more interested in hearing from the industry about their regulatory issues. If consumers want to protect their right to purchase the supplements of their choice and to sometimes buy them in the therapeutic doses that are now being restricted in Europe (e.g. 1,000 mg vitamin C), they must stay informed. Every concerned individual can join a nutrition rights consumer group so that when the time comes again when pressure is needed to stop some new infringement of our rights, we will be aligned to successfully apply that pressure.
Although DSHEA was a good step forward, there is still a long way to go. The FDA can still stymie manufacturers with excessively restrictive rules and by keeping them from discussing the truthful benefits of supplements. In an ideal world, nutrition would be regulated by a separate agency, because if consumers eat well, supplement sensibly and reach first for safe natural remedies, that scenario is bad for the drug companies’ profits. Pharmaceutical interests have so much power on their side from supporting the FDA with fees that it doesn’t seem reasonable to ask the same agency to regulate both David and Goliath.
Martie Whittekin is a certified clinical nutritionist, author and host of the Healthy By Nature radio talk show. For more information, call 877-262-7843 or visit HBNShow.com.