“These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Have you seen that label on your dietary supplements? I know I have – and until recently, I worried that this FDA disclaimer meant that the claims were false or misleading. It made me worry about purchasing and using products that contained that label. Then, after a little bit of research, I discovered why these products haven’t been evaluated by the FDA.
Why doesn’t the FDA evaluate dietary supplements?
The FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for testing and studying human and veterinary drugs.
However, since these products are designed to supplement the diet, the product-evaluation FDA classifies them as food and not drugs. Therefore, the FDA is not responsible to evaluate the claims on the packages.
Since only drugs can legally claim to “treat, cure or prevent any disease,” supplements cannot make those claims and must include the FDA disclaimer on their labeling – especially if they are making claims about health benefits associated with the product.
What are dietary supplements?
According to the FDA, dietary supplements are products taken by mouth that supplement the diet. These products can include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, organ tissues, metabolites and more. These products can be delivered as tablets, capsules, liquids, soft gels, powders or in other forms.
How can I verify the claims on a dietary supplement?
Since the FDA doesn’t evaluate these claims, consumers must be very wise in their purchases. If you are shopping for a supplement, do your research and use your common sense.
Follow these guidelines if you are shopping for a dietary supplement:
Read the details on the product packaging carefully. Does the packaging mention any studies or factual information to verify these claims? Are there any sources for the information? Is there fine print (other than the FDA disclaimer) that undermines the claims being made?
Search online for more information. A simple internet search can help you find product reviews and investigate claims.
Contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Ask for their opinion on the product. If you are taking medications, have a chronic condition or are on a special diet, you should contact a professional before beginning a supplement anyway.
The next time you’re shopping for dietary supplements and see the FDA disclaimer, remember that the FDA classifies these products as food and not drugs. Be careful in your product choices and remember, nobody is as interested in your health as you are!
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