The Authenticity Issue for Herbal Products

Siam Industries International Co. Ltd. Thailand, a US-Thai Amity Company and their Siam Natural Organics premier Thai supplements brand recently unveiled several US FDA-registered health supplements & herbal based cosmetic products for American consumers to buy on line and ship locally from Nevada.

I am pleased to back them fully and can speak for their integrity.

In a world of ever increasing fake everything – like tainted and undocumented ‘black market’ Amazon & eBay supplements & diluted cosmetics, this new brand brings US customers a breath of fresh pure premium grade 100% natural dietary herbal supplements and luxury organic based Envisage Siam Zen formulation cosmetics – all fully documented and licensed by the Thai FDA & Registered with US FDA and US Customs.

In these troubled times of fakery and off-brand bargain basement prices – it’s imperative that consumers have confidence that what they’re purchasing is authentic and manufactured under strict GMP safe & sanitary conditions with the exact contents stated on the labels.

In 2017 retail sales of vitamins & nutritional supplements in the US reached a whopping $36 billion. Many unscrupulous manufacturers have jumped into the supplements arena over the past few decades selling bogus, blended, and fake health supplements then closing their doors and immediately reopening under a different name. 

It’s a new kind of crime.         

According to former special agent and forensic investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Mr. Gary Collins, MS, who is adamant about hardworking moms and dads trying to do right by their family by buying inexpensive supplements, he went on to say, “Little do they know that these ‘bargain’ vitamins and capsules are worthless at best, and at worst may cost them and their children their health, and possibly their lives”. In a 2013 blog post he wrote,”

The fact is, it costs money to make quality dietary supplements such as vitamins, protein powders, fish oil capsules, energy bars, herbal blends, or sports nutrition products. But if you have no morals and know how truly under-regulated the supplement industry is in America, you can make huge amounts of money selling dangerous counterfeit and expired supplement products. How? You undercut the price of legitimate supplement companies. Cheaper wins. And the consumer loses. Why should you believe me? For many years, not too long ago, I worked in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a Special Agent. I’ve been behind the curtain of the supplement industry – way behind – so what I say is not based on some far-fetched conspiracy theory. I was there and witnessed it firsthand. Now, as a public health advocate and creator of the Primal Power Methodhere’s what I want you to know about the vitamins, capsules and pills that can make or break your health.

There are three main ways that supplements end up on the market at unbelievably cheap prices:

They are counterfeit and probably dangerous.
They are useless expired products that have been repackaged as new.
They are stolen products released on the black market without any quality control”.

Industry consumer affairs groups, and now the legal system alike, report major store chains such as GNC, Target, Walmart, Walgreens and others, intentionally or unknowingly, are selling bogus herbal supplements.

In December of 2016 Thai legal representatives investigated a number of Amazon, eBay and other on-line ‘private store’ sellers of undocumented ‘black market’ Thai herbal supplements and notified the legal departments at Amazon and eBay in writing with no response whatsoever. Their legal department(s) seem to just ignore these issues and hide behind answering machines not returning telephone calls or professional representative’s letters.

Apparently greed and total a disregard for humanity prevails because corporate sellers like Amazon, Etsy and eBay seem to choose to turn a blind eye to sales of bogus, black market, undocumented and/or even dangerous supplements by allowing private sellers to continue to hide within their private on-line stores after they have slipped under the radar of US Customs and US FDA.

The Thai legal team spoke up but were met with deaf ears and a stone wall.  The big chain stores  simply may not be able to identify and verify the authenticity of certain documents or vendor products that have been manufactured illegally or improperly which somehow slipped through the maze of US Customs and FDA Compliance systems. Nevertheless, they are accountable for what they are putting on their shelves for consumers to purchase.

The Guelph Study

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman was the bold one to take the initiative in 2015 after seeing a study conducted by the University of Guelph in 2013 that found ‘contamination’ and ‘substitution’ in herbal products in most of the products tested. As was said at the time by a spokesperson for the University of Guelph, “The industry suffers from unethical activities by some manufacturers.”

Attorney General Schneiderman launched his investigation into thirteen manufacturers in America and stated, “This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements”.

“The study undertaken by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office was a well-controlled, scientifically-based documentation of the outrageous degree of adulteration in the herbal supplement industry,” stated Arthur P. Grollman, M.D., Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University. “Hopefully, this action can prompt other states to follow New York’s example and lead to the reform of federal laws that, in their current form, are doing little to protect the public.”

Attorney General Schneiderman said DNA tests by his investigations found that just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.

We view these as outrageous corporate crimes being perpetrated against unknowing consumers who spend their hard earned money for supplements they believe may improve their health and well being.

In the Feb. 3, 2015 release, Schneiderman announced DNA barcode testing results that indicated widespread deception: Several products tested—including saw palmetto, St. John’s Wort and Echinacea, among others—failed to contain the labeled herbs and were tainted with undeclared contaminants and fillers, such as rice and spruce.

Industry executives immediately set to work trying to discredit the accuracy of Schneiderman’s results. The processing of herbs into an extract, their “experts” said, can eliminate or alter the DNA, leaving a mistaken impression that the plant material is absent from the finished product. This is where the lawyers for the corporate defendants try to quash the charges through legal haggling and maneuvering.

Walmart and its co-defendants produced more than 12,000 pages of material, including internal and external testing of the supplements, manufacturing records and quality control procedures.

What the above all means for YOU as the vulnerable consumer is that big corporations are willing to spend lots of money on high powered lawyers to legally sidestep their way out of their moral and ethical responsibilities as sellers of health supplements – failing to protect the interest of consumers first.

It is no different than the deception and misrepresentation that is going on with Amazon, eBay, Etsy and other on-line marketers who wish to hide supplement cheaters by turning a blind eye to unscrupulous sellers in their embedded ‘anonymous’ on-line stores. Amazon prints the following disclaimer on their website to attempt to legally avoid responsibility for their actions:

AMAZON DISCLAIMER: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product.

 For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.

In other words – they, AMAZON, assume no responsibility whatsoever for their actions, even though they accept financial compensation from fraudulent dealing through their site and actually FULFILL the products in some cases. They are simply partners in crime. It’s another case of a tech giant stepping outside the law and telling the government, and consumer, “If you don’t like it, go screw yourself.”

I believe that all in all, the US FDA screening system is quite good and designed to make safe and healthy vitamins and supplements more accessible to consumers.

However, it is far from perfect.

What I find most disturbing is to see is items on Amazon and eBay like images below left that I know full well are totally undocumented, black market, perhaps even the wrong species being illegally exported from Thailand and openly sold on Amazon and eBay as a “real Thai ” product.

Sold by South Korea based BEorgan and Fulfilled by Amazon

Undocumented, it could be anything mixed in the capsules! We surmise its wild crafted herb from the rain forest that is manufactured underground in Thailand and shipped in small boxes through the postal system to avoid US Customs scrutiny and to circumvent the FDA Compliance System.

My suppliers (The Thailand based Siam Industries International Co. Ltd.) are acclaimed globally for manufacturing top premier grade greenhouse organically cultivated Pueraria mirificaladies herbal dietary supplements and handmade herbal Zen cosmetics containing organic PM liquid extracts.

Small, family Thai farmers, cultivating greenhouse-reared, potentized Pueraria stock.

This product offered has a Thai official license number: UPC: 759740480640, (Thailand Ministry of Public Health)

And a US FDA license #: 1-1-14153-1-0239