Friday, September 9, 2011

Battle Lines Solidify Over Bid to Distinguish Food, Supplements - September 9, 2011
Lazy Larry dietary supplements look and taste like fudge brownies. They contain some of the same ingredients, including flour, trans fats, sugar and oil. And until recently they could be found among the snack foods in convenience stores.

But the brown "relaxation" treats contain melatonin, a neurohormone often used as a sleep aid. There is no safety data on its use in conventional foods, but animal studies on melatonin have raised red flags over potential adverse effects, including blood glucose problems and cardiovascular, eye and reproductive issues.

Citing health risks from products that blur the line dividing supplements from food and beverages, lawmakers are pushing for tighter regulation of vitamins, herbs, weight-loss products and other dietary supplements.

The U.S. also is overwhelmed by potentially dangerous imported ingredients from Asia, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., whose recently introduced Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011 would increase labeling requirements and require companies to register their products. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has neither the power nor the resources to monitor what's going on in the industry," he said in an interview.

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