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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note: Herbal Certification

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth's Diane Toomey reports on a new certification program for herbal products.


CURWOOD: Coming up later on our program: a look at how well some Native Americans protect the land of their ancestors--if they incorporate. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.

TOOMEY: Under federal regulations the Food & Drug Administration does not have to analyze herbal supplements before they go to market. It's up to the manufacturers to police themselves, ensuring their products are safe and their ingredient lists are accurate. As a result, there's been increasing concern about the quality of herbal products. But now, companies can opt into a voluntary, non-governmental certification program for herbal products. The U.S. Pharmacopoeia, or USP, a non-profit organization that sets quality standards for drugs, vitamins and other dietary supplements, will run the program. As part of the certification process the U.S.P. will analyze a product to make sure its active ingredients agree with what's printed on the label. The supplement will also be screened for contaminants, and companies must submit to inspections of their manufacturing facilities. After certification, the USP will periodically perform random testing on off-the-shelf products. Herbal supplements that make the grade will carry the words "USP Verified" on their labels, along with a not-yet-determined symbol. Expect to see the first USP Verified products on the shelves late next year or early 2003. That's this week's Health Note. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.



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