10 months ago, New York State Attorney General’s (hereinafter, “AG”) office commissioned a DNA barcode test of herbal dietary supplements. The AG’s office states that the tested products didn’t contain what was declared on the label. Moreover, the supplements also contained some food ingredients that were not declared on the label.
In a study of 18 devil’s claw supplements, the New York Botanical Garden found that for the 16 supplements for which DNA could be identified, all contained zeyheri, either by itself (81%) or mixed with procumbens (19%).
In September AG announced that that his office issued letter demanding that 13 dietary supplements manufacturers cease and desist from the sale, distribution, or marketing of adulterated or misbranded "devil's claw" supplements. The letters are based on a study from the New York Botanical Garden that used an advanced DNA barcoding technique to conclude that the devil’s claw supplements from these manufacturers contained a cheaper related species (Harpagophytum zeyheri) that is considered less desirable.
It is required by federal regulation to identify plant species using the common name standardized in the trade publication, Herbs of Commerce. Most product labels for the supplements tested by the New York Botanical Garden also explicitly referred to the ingredient by its Scientific name, Harpagophytum procumbens.
The companies were requested to take some actions compensating consumers who purchased the adulterated supplements, and to reform their approach to quality control.