The news out of China – and from growing hotspots around the globe – doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The number of people known to have been infected with the novel coronavirus, or COVID19 as it’s now being called, has been revised upward to more than 60,400 in more than 28 countries. The death toll has surpassed 1,370. The United States, incidentally, just confirmed its 15th case.
And, it gets worse. One World Health Organization adviser fears two-thirds of the world’s population could get infected, according to reporting from Bloomberg. That translates into roughly 5.1 billion infected, which could mean more than 100 million dead based on the current (and admittedly early) estimate of a 2 percent fatality rate. For illustration’s sake, that’s nearly a third of the population of the United States. That same Bloomberg story also cited a British researcher who estimated, “as many as 50,000 people may be infected each day in China.”
It’s in the shadow of this growing global emergency that the four leading dietary supplement trade associations in the United States, which fight for the responsible sale and use of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary supplements, banded together to release a statement this week warning against bad actors who might try to fraudulently profit from this crisis.
“The U.S. dietary supplement industry is aware of the growing concern regarding the novel coronavirus and of the public’s desire to protect itself against the virus,” the press release explains. “However, we are concerned that some marketers of dietary supplements or other products may be promoting them with claims of prevention or treatment of coronavirus.”
While studies support the use of some dietary supplements for immune system health, the groups point out there isn’t any published clinical research that demonstrates there’s any dietary supplement on the market that can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.
Even if that research existed, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 prevents “marketers of dietary supplements in the United States from promoting any dietary supplement product that makes disease prevention or treatment claims.”
As a result, the trade group coalition, which includes The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), offers advice for dietary supplement marketers, retailers, and consumers:
Marketers and retailers of dietary supplements should refuse to stock or sell any supplements presented as treating, curing or preventing coronavirus.
Marketers and retailers should refrain from promoting any dietary supplement as a cure, treatment or prevention for coronavirus.
Consumers should avoid any product claiming to treat, cure or prevent coronavirus and report such products to the Food and Drug Administration.
Anyone who thinks they might have coronavirus or come in contact with COVID-19 should call a healthcare professional immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on coronavirus and the best actions to take if you suspect you’re ill.
Sadly, crises such as these always seem to draw out the bad actors hoping to profit from consumer fears. In short, companies need to watch their language when marketing or selling supplements, while customers need to consume with care.
UNPA has been a TraceGains partner for some time now, with the shared goal of increasing quality, management, and transparency in the global supplement supply chain. As a result, UNPA President Loren Israelsen will be discussing what supplement manufacturers can do to survive this threat and keep their supply chains intact. Join TraceGains CEO Gary Nowacki as he and Loren take part in a webinar on Feb. 27, 2020, to discuss how companies can avoid supply chain interruptions and keep their operations running safely. Register here today.