Chaotic reality of dietary supplement industry

Soon after investigation police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Nguyen Duy Bao, director of Bao Khang Im-Export Company in Go Vap District for selling fake nutritional supplements in bulk quantity, public concern was raised for chaotic reality of the nutritional supplement industry.

Among fake nutritional supplements were seized, many of them are fake tea for weight loss which people are favorite. Shop assistant of pharmacy P.T. in Huynh Tan Phat Street in District 7 listed many name of weight loss nutritional supplements from domestic to foreign-made products most of them are worth VND500,000 (US$23) up.

Not only pharmacies sell nutritional supplements, but social networking websites also are flooded with advertising about nutritional supplements.

Most of nutritional supplements, especially products for weight loss, are attached with leaflets that are made of natural herbs accordingly they will not cause harmful side effects for human. However, herbalist Le Van Truyen, former Deputy Health Minister, said that private companies themselves boasted about the use of nutritional supplements without checking of health authorities.

At a meeting about nutritional supplements held lately, Nguyen Hung Long, deputy chief of  Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) under the Ministry of Health, said that there are over 10,000 nutritional supplements in local markets with various products for weight loss.

Though there has no case of complication due to taking nutritional supplements, the risk is threatening; therefore, health authorities are tightening control over the products. In first six months of the year, Food Administration of Vietnam has fined tens enterprises with the amount up to VND1.5 billion (US$68,760) for violating drug advertising regulations, Long said.

Dr. Do Thi Ngoc Diep, director of Nutrition Center in Ho Chi Minh City, said that  many people are unsuccessful in losing weight, as a result, they seek the quick methods to reduce fat. However, haste makes waste, said Dr. Diep; every medicine or nutritional supplements which help reducing weight quickly all have less or more bad side- effects.

From the reality, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of VFA, said that the administration liaising with related agencies to check and fine owners to sell fake or substandard products. Consumers should choose products with clear indication of origin and they should inform authorities if they detect low quality products, said Dr. Phong.

By Tuong Lam – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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