The DSEA considers any substance, besides tobacco, that contains a vitamin, a botanical, an amino acid, or a combination of those ingredients used as a substitute for food to be a dietary supplement. These supplements usually come in pill, tablet, or liquid form, such as herbal supplements and energy drinks, and must be labeled on the front panel as a dietary supplement.

What are the Nutritional Labeling Requirements on a Dietary Supplement?

  • Ingredients : A dietary supplement, such as DMAA or Arbonne, is required to list all of its ingredients, the amount of each individual ingredient, and the amount of all the ingredients put together.  If there are many kinds of botanicals used as ingredients, the label must say what part of the plant they come from.
  • Nutritional Content : First there must be a listing for significant amounts of dietary ingredients for which the FDA has daily consumption recommendations. Following that, there should be a list of those dietary ingredients of which there are significant amounts, but for which there are no daily consumption recommendations by the FDA.  The list of dietary ingredients in the nutrition facts section should also include the quantity per serving of each ingredient

What is Prohibited from Being Listed on a Dietary Supplement?

Dietary supplement labels cannot list any untruthful or misleading statements about the benefits of the supplement.  For example, you should not be able to find a dietary supplement in a store that says “cures cancer” on it.  If the manufacturer of the dietary supplement wants to list benefits on the label, it must have these statements approved by the FDA.   If there is a statement pertaining to the supplement’s benefits on its label that is not approved by the FDA, it must have a disclaimer that the FDA has not approved the statement in reasonable proximity to that statement.

What Should I Do if I Have Purchased and Used a Dietary Supplement That I Later Found Had Improper Labeling?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer of the dietary supplement to meet the requirements of the DSEA.  If you find you have been using a mislabeled supplement, you will want to lodge a complaint with the manufacturer as well as the FDA.  You may also want to consult a defective products lawyer.  Your attorney can let you know what your options are and help you decide on the best course of action.  You may also be entitled to money damages in a lawsuit against the manufacturer.