Walmart has agreed to eliminate the statement on its Spring Valley dietary supplements that “independent verification” is done on the products and pay refunds to Iowans who may’ve bought them.
Attorney General Tom Miller says the nationwide agreement answers questions raised about the statement. “Walmart for a period of time had a representation on their supplements that said ‘verified by an independent, certified laboratory.’ And we, and I think reasonably in the industry and consumer protection, interpret that to mean that they tested their ingredients to make sure that they had the full amount that was represented of that ingredient and that there weren’t any significant safety concerns,” Miller explains.
But he says that isn’t the interpretation the company used. “Their interpretation was that the independent verifier would just verify that some amount — say if it was a garlic supplement — some amount of garlic was in it,” Miller says. “We said that was deceptive based on how people view these things.” Miller says Walmart was very cooperative in the discussions, which led to the agreement to get rid of the statement.
“It’s going to be completely off. They won’t do this sort of representation in the future. They will provide reimbursement for customers who request reimbursement and also they will provide the state of Iowa 100-thousand dollars for additional Iowa consumers (reimbursement), and also for our consumer fund,” Miller says.
Miller says if you bought supplements that included the statement on the label, you can get a refund. “First of all if possible they should ask for a refund from Walmart. If that is not possible, then they should ask for a refund from our consumer protection division,” according to Miller. He says the Walmart issue came up in a general review of product labels.
“Separate testing, independent testing is very important in this whole area of supplements and drugs,” Miller explains. “If there is a claim that has been independently tested, we think that that means independent and a means a full test in what is common in the industry. And we want that to continue to be the case.” The verification statement appeared on about 60 Spring Valley supplements, including some offerings of echinacea, garlic, ginseng, gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, and saw palmetto.
For more information go to the Attorney General’s website at: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov