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Walmart to eliminate 'verification statement' from Spring Valley

Staff Writer |
Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to eliminate "independent verification" statement on its Walmart store-brand Spring Valley dietary supplement labels nationwide.

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Through an agreement with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail chain will permanently remove the statement, "Verified by an independent, certified laboratory."

The verification statement appeared on about 60 Spring Valley supplements, including some offerings of echinacea, garlic, ginseng, gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, and saw palmetto.

The Consumer Protection Division learned of the verification statement during a wide-ranging review of dietary supplement industry marketing practices.

An inquiry determined that an independent lab verified only that certain Walmart products contained primary ingredients stated on labels – for example, that Spring Valley garlic capsules did, in fact, contain garlic.

Miller’s office had become concerned that the "verification" statement could give consumers a mistaken impression as to what product features an independent lab actually verified.

"Dietary supplement marketing gives rise to special concerns, since ads and labels emphasize health benefits, but a lack of regulatory safeguards means that manufacturers and sellers don’t have to show that their products work—or work safely—before they go on store shelves," Miller said.

According to Miller, the agreement was the culmination of cooperative discussions in which Walmart committed to change the labels in question, despite the company’s belief that consumers had not been harmed.

Nationwide, consumers with a receipt or product container with the verification statement can obtain a full refund, consistent with Walmart’s established return policy.

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