FDA warns some dietary supplements don't disclose dangerous ingredients

Some products marketed as dietary supplements have an “alarming variety” of undeclared active ingredients, according to a letter the Food and Drug Administration sent Wednesday to the drugs' manufacturers.

“These ingredients, generally undeclared in the labeling, can pose considerable dangers to consumers who may take these products without knowing that the ingredients are present, that the ingredients may be associated with serious side effects, or that they may interact in dangerous ways with other products consumers may be taking,” wrote FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Some products marketed as dietary supplements have also been found to contain controlled substances, such as anabolic steroids, Hamburg wrote. Further, the dietary supplements are often marketed for other purposes, such as weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding.

“These products not only pose risks to consumers but undermine confidence in legitimately marketed dietary supplements in these and other categories,” Hamburg said.

The FDA has already worked with industry to recall more than 70 of these products marketed for sexual enhancement, more than 40 marketed for weight loss and more than 80 marketed for bodybuilding.

The FDA announced in the letter that it is starting an RSS feed on its website to provide more rapid alerts when the agency finds that a dietary supplement is tainted. Following the alert, the FDA will contact companies to recall the products.