Health Food Stores and Supplement Makers Face Test in MA State Legislature

Health Food Stores and Supplement Makers Face Test in MA State Legislature

Consumer Access to Safe, Legal, Natural Products Under Attack
NPA Submits Comments for the Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill reintroduced in the Massachusetts State Legislature would place a costly burden on small businesses who have already been hard hit by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.  The bills, H.D. 1309 and S.D. 678, the “Protecting Children from Diet Pills and Muscle-Building Supplements,” have been reintroduced by Representative Kay Khan and State Senator Mike Rush.  Last year, NPA submitted comments for the record here.

The proposal restricts the purchase of supplements to individuals over the age of 18, which would mean that young people in Massachusetts would be banned from addressing nutrient gaps in their diets with nutrient-rich supplements.

“This will do nothing to promote public health and will actually make it worse by restricting access to nutritional supplements during the pandemic,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO.  “We should be focused on expanding access to nutritional supplements for all Americans, especially those that are nutritionally vulnerable.”

According to a 2017 study on the risk of deficiency in children and adults in the United States, thirty-one percent of the U.S. population is at risk of at least one vitamin deficiency or anemia, including, a significantly higher risk for in women (37%), non-Hispanic blacks (55%), and obese individuals (39%).

This year, NPA launched a new effort to expand access to nutritional supplements for all communities through the tax code and assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The bill’s sponsors claim that the legislation is necessary because of an association between dietary supplements and eating disorders, yet no such association has been proven by a review of the most authoritative publicly-available data.  NPA recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine if any such association existed and found no adverse events or reporting associated with dietary supplements and eating disorders.

“Nutritional supplements are simply natural ingredients found in foods and restricting access to them is unfair to Massachusetts consumers, hurts responsible retailers and drains the state budget through lost sales taxes. Nobody wins,” said Dr. Fabricant.  “We are pleased that a bipartisan majority of members in the state house and the Baker Administration agree with this and with consumers and have so far rejected this unnecessary and costly approach.”

The bill also targets natural ingredients called thermogenics, which are found in foods and beverages we use every day, like caffeine in a Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee, catechins found in green tea or beans in Boston Bean soup.  “Should young people in Massachusetts need to get the consent of a parent or guardian or prove they are 18 to buy these products?” asked Dr. Fabricant.

This legislation also targets lipotropics, which are found in healthy and recommended foods, including lean cuts of beef, chicken, turkey and in fish like salmon and Massachusetts own world-famous cod.  “If eating cod is a health threat to minors it might be time to remove the Sacred Cod from the State Capitol, because cod is chock full of lipotropics, an ingredient targeted by this bill,” said Dr. Fabricant.

The bill has already sparked a public outcry and has led to thousands of letters in opposition.