Dietary supplements with recalled ingredients often remain on the shelves despite a health warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Looking at 27 supplements recalled between 2009 and 2012, researchers found that two thirds of those supplements what were still being sold contained the substance banned by the FDA. The other supplements either remained on the shelf with the recalled ingredient removed or were pulled completely.
The study also found that some types of supplements were more likely to contain recalled ingredients than others. Sports supplements stayed on the shelf despite containing recalled ingredients 85% of the time, higher than any other type of supplement. Only 20% of sexual enhancement supplements that had faced a recall continued to be sold with the recalled element still included, the study found.
Supplement manufacturers make varying levels of effort to ensure that their recalled product is taken off the shelves, says Pieter Cohen, a Harvard researcher who helped conduct the study.
“These companies…were so unabashedly willing to continue to sell exactly the same product that they had recalled with banned drugs in them,” he says. “It shows that the FDA is not … double checking.”