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GNC, NATURE'S WAY AGREE TO RECALL GUAR GUM WEIGHT LOSS AIDS BY LATE JULY

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

GNC, NATURE'S WAY AGREE TO RECALL GUAR GUM WEIGHT LOSS AIDS BY LATE JULY under an "assurance of voluntary compliance" drafted by attorneys general in 11 states -- Arizona, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. General Nutrition Centers and Nature's Way said they would "recall to the retail level and destroy all" products "previously distributed that contain more than .5% guar gum" within 120 days of signing the assurance document. Nature's Way and GNC signed the agreement on March 24 and March 25, respectively. GNC and Nature's Way also agreed to begin labeling their guar gum-containing bulk laxative products with a "warning in compliance with regulations promulgated by FDA for bulk laxatives." The two companies said they would -- at their option - - relabel their guar gum-containing bulk laxative products to contain the warning within 90 days of signing the agreement, rather than destroying the products. For the past several years, FDA has worked to remove guar gum- containing products from the market. The rationale for the agency's campaign is that high concentrations of guar gum in weight loss products may expand and block respiratory passages. Another FDA regulatory action on guar gum came in 1990, when the agency called for the market withdrawal of National Dietary Research's Food Source One. NDR now sells a reformulated version with reduced guar gum content, but is still embroiled in a battle with FDA over whether Food Source One is a food or a drug ("The Tan Sheet" May 10, p. 12). GNC and Nature's Way Products assured the state AGs that they would not "sell, offer for sale, manufacture, advertise, distribute, or promote any tablet or capsule product containing more than .5% guar gum." The manufacturers also are prohibited from selling "any powder or crystal product containing guar gum, which, when diluted with milk, water or any other liquid would, as consumed, contain more than .5% guar gum, including but not limited to any product to be used as an aid in weight loss or weight control," according to the assurance document. As part of the agreement, both firms will pay each of the 11 states $ 12,000 "to be used as costs, attorneys' fees or for such consumer protection purposes as permitted by state law." These sums translate into a total of $ 132,000, or $ 66,000 from each company. The document adds that "any breach of this agreement" by either company "will not be considered to be a breach . . . by the non-breaching party" and that nothing in the agreement constitutes an admission that either firm "has violated the law of any of the states."
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