FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Robert S. McCaleb
Herb Research Foundation Gives Herbs Scientific
Credibility to Counter Media Distortions
October 11, 2001: The dietary supplement industry is under
siege. A perceived lack of scientific credibility and regulatory
opposition feeds negative media coverage, which in turn undermines
consumers' confidence in alternative healing therapies.
Recently, some of the negative media coverage has been "the
unintentional consequence of well-intended actions," said
Rob McCaleb, president of the Herb Research Foundation (HRF) in
Boulder, CO. In an apparent effort to resolve industry quality
issues, a number of analytical programs were undertaken with industry
funding. McCaleb cites poorly designed "test and tell"
programs as hurting the industry and badly eroding consumer confidence
in supplement quality. These programs have trivialized quality
with a simplistic focus on single chemical "markers"
and encouraged consumers to buy the cheapest brand that provides
enough of certain chemicals.
Scientific credibility is essential to bolster consumer confidence
in herbs and for the continued growth of the industry. Since its
founding in 1983, HRF has served as the central archive of scientific
literature on the health effects and safety of botanicals and
has developed the world's most comprehensive collection of clinical
trials, pharmacology, toxicology, chemical, historical, and horticultural
data on thousands of herbal ingredients. HRF's current collection
consists of more than 300,000 articles.
By law, manufacturers must substantiate all structure/function
claims made in product labeling and advertising. Now, as the FDA
turns its scrutiny to functional foods, these issues have become
particularly important for manufacturers incorporating botanical
ingredients into food products. HRF provides substantiation files
for botanicals based on a vast collection of information resources,
and has provided substantiation to support claims made by dozens
of companies for hundreds of products. Substantiation files provide
companies with a more complete picture of the benefits and safety
of herbal ingredients, which allows them to make valid claims
and provide a greater depth of information to consumers, media,
HRF also has a well-established professional review program for
herbs. The HRF Botanical Ingredient Review approach is the most
effective and cost-effective way to document the safety and scientific
credibility of botanical ingredients. The program allows companies
to "self-affirm" the status of herbs as "generally
recognized as safe" (GRAS). To date, HRF has undertaken reviews
for more than 30 commonly used botanicals, and its Botanical Ingredient
Review program has been recognized by the FDA and the Food and
Drug Law Institute.