LOS ANGELES, Calif., Feb. 6, 2015 –Celiac Disease Foundation today sent a letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, asking that she issue notifications to GNC Holdings, Inc., Target Corporation, Walgreens and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to cease and desist engaging in the sale of adulterated and/or mislabeled herbal dietary supplements in California.

“On behalf of the concerned California citizens with celiac disease, we urge you to address this serious public health and safety issue,” wrote Celiac Disease Foundation Chief Executive Officer Marilyn G. Geller. “Celiac disease affects 1 in 100 people worldwide, including 3 million Americans.  For those afflicted, ingestion of even the smallest amount of gluten- wheat, rye and barley – can cause serious damage to the small intestine, resulting in long term health complications that include intestinal cancers and coronary heart disease. Adulterated and mislabeled herbal dietary supplements that contain hidden gluten, or wheat as in the case of the tested ginseng product, present a significant health risk to the celiac population.”

View the Letter Here

DNA barcoding technology was used to examine the contents of herbal supplements as part of an ongoing investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office regarding long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry.  Six different herbal supplements sold at the four major retail companies were tested, including Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto. 35% of the product tests identified plant species not listed on the ingredient label. The Walgreens and Walmart contaminants identified included wheat, posing an “unacceptable health hazard” to those with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

You may view more information on the New York Attorney General’s case here.