Press Release - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz
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The Assembly

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October 11, 2005
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203

Ortiz Welcomes Health Department Report on Dietary Supplements
Assemblyman carries legislation to help protect consumers; plans to act on report recommendations

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, welcomed the release of a report by the NYS Health Department's Task Force on Life and the Law, Dietary Supplements - Balancing Consumer Choice & Safety, which calls for State regulation of the supplement industry. Ortiz, who sponsored a public hearing on dietary supplements and co-sponsored the State's ban on ephedra, currently sponsors several supplement-related bills. He plans to review the recommendations for State action and introduce legislation to authorize the State Health Department to take a stronger role in overseeing the sale of supplements.

According to Ortiz, "After working on this issue for the last four years I welcome the Health department's report. Just because a supplement may be derived from a natural source, does not mean it is somehow safer or needs less regulatory oversight. That is why we banned ephedra because the federal government was slow to do its job. Consumers may believe that the claims for dietary supplements are backed by the same type of research as drugs and that the FDA has investigated them. Those assumptions could lead to health risks if a person chose an ineffective supplement over an effective medical treatment or waste money if a consumer chose a product that had no chance of successfully fulfilling its claims. Because the federal government is either unwilling or unable to adequately regulate this industry, we need to act at the State level."

In 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA), which allowed the sale of supplements without pre-market reviews and permitted health claims on labels with 30 day's notice to the FDA. The burden is on the FDA to prove a dietary supplement is unsafe or ineffective as opposed to drugs that require pre-market safety reviews and lengthy research studies to prove they work. There is much confusion and controversy over the safety of certain supplements, their effectiveness, the scientific basis for health or medical claims, the FDA's ability to oversee labeling prior to product marketing and general quality parameters of supplements, such as purity and strength.

In response to these concerns, Assemblyman Ortiz introduced four bills to regulate supplements in New York State.

  • A.4305 would make it a deceptive trade practice to sell or offer for sale dietary supplements which are represented to accomplish certain improvements, unless substantiated.

  • A. 4307 would prohibit coaches and other school employees from selling or promoting the use of dietary supplements and require schools to distribute warnings to students about risks from certain supplements.

  • A.8002 would require products labeled as dietary supplements or nutritional supplements to carry a label stating that product has or has not been tested by United States FDA.

  • A.8004 would provide that a student who is caught using prohibited performance enhancing substances be banned from participation in athletics for a minimum of one year

"In the absence of adequate federal oversight and regulation these bills would let New Yorkers make more informed choices and would protect children, who are part of a dangerous experiment of increased use of supplements for sports, weight loss, energy, and appearance. I also plan to give our Health Department the tools to properly oversee the safety and quality of supplements and prevent fraud and abuse in the supplement marketplace," said Ortiz.

New York State Assembly
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