During the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers increased their use of supplements that claimed to support immune health, including Ayurvedic preparations. The goal of this study was to analyze labeling compliance and online claims for Ayurvedic herbal supplements associated with the purported treatment of COVID-19. The physical product labels for 51 herbal supplements labeled as ginger, tulsi/holy basil, amla, vacha/calamus root, guduchi/giloy, cinnamon, ashwagandha, tribulus, or turmeric were assessed for U.S. regulatory compliance. Disease claims, structure/function claims, and general well-being claims were also examined. The online listings for products purchased online (n = 42) were examined for claims and for the presence of the required legal disclaimer. Collectively, 61% of products had at least one instance of noncompliance on the physical label. The most common violations included missing/noncompliant disclaimer (33%), noncompliant “Supplement Facts” label (29%), noncompliant statement of identity (27%) and noncompliant domestic mailing address or phone number (25%). Structure/function claims occurred more frequently in the online product listings (average of 5 claims per product) compared to the physical labels (average of 2 claims per product). Disease claims were observed for 38% of online product listings and on 8% of physical labels. The use of disease claims on herbal supplements is a significant concern for public health because it may lead consumers to delay seeking professional treatment for life-threatening diseases. Overall, this study revealed a lack of labeling compliance among Ayurvedic herbal supplements and a need for greater scrutiny and monitoring of online product listings.
Jordan, C. R., Harris, C. M., Miranda, M. I., Kim, D. Y., & Hellberg, R. S. (2023). Labeling compliance and online claims for Ayurvedic herbal supplements on the US market associated with the purported treatment of COVID-19. Food Control,148, 109673. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2023.109673
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