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Yesterday we addressed the dangers of Aristolochia, an herb whose medicinal use dates from antiquity, and which remains in use as a dietary supplement today. Now, as the potential for adverse health effects associated with supplement use becomes more clear, the FDA is calling for supplement manufacturers to provide more information on the safety of new ingredients.

In the context of dietary supplements, a new ingredient is one that was not already in use before passage of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, or DSHEA, in 1994. The FDA s new draft bill proposes to make the supplement companies affirm that a new ingredient is safe, either by presenting supporting historical data or by conducting safety testing. As one might expect, the supplement industry's largest trade association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, objects to the proposed modifications, stating that they exceed the provisions of DSHEA.

But ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava believes such added regulation will benefit consumer safety. "The supplement industry has not done a good job of self-policing, to say the least, she says. It's about time that the industry improved its quality control the FDA's proposed standards will help in this regard. The unfortunate situation now is that older supplements need not show that they are either effective or safe that must change.

To revisit our more comprehensive commentary on this issue, check out our January Dispatch article on the newly proposed guidelines and how they still may not go far enough toward protecting consumer health.