A recent study done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that many major online retail sites are selling counterfeit products that pose potential risks to consumers. The popular online distributors involved in the study were Amazon, Walmart, Sears Marketplace, New Egg, and eBay. GAO purchased 47 different items from the previously mentioned third-party sellers and found that 20 of the 47 products were counterfeit. 43% of all purchased items were not actually what they were advertised to be! Counterfeit goods threaten the health and safety of consumers. The GAO report states that Customs and Border Protection has seized counterfeit versions of personal care products such as contact lenses, perfume, and hair removal devices that could cause damage to skin and eyes due to contamination with dangerous bacteria or chemicals[1].  


When purchasing nutritional supplements online consumers must be exceptionally cautious. In the United States dietary supplements are considered a special category food and do not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration before being put on the market, and manufacturers are not required to provide evidence for the safety or effectiveness of their product. Counterfeit producers of health and dietary products will use fake, cheap ingredients often of unknown origin and sometimes even pharmaceutical adulterants to increase product effectiveness. In addition, repackaging and reselling of expired products, intentional swapping or misidentification of plant material, and falsification of active ingredient amounts are major concerns [2].

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Don’t be tempted by the discounted options offered by third-party sellers. Quality supplements require quality ingredients as well as production and manufacturing methods. If it is cheap and seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Buy directly from the manufacturer or from a reputable and authorized retailer, such as Starkel Nutrition.  

If you cannot make it into the clinic to purchase your supplements, you can order directly from our distributor via our virtual dispensary, Wellevate, where you will receive 18% off your purchases and free shipping on orders over $49. For access, follow this link: https://wellevate.me/starkelnutrition.


Written by Makala T., BS in Nutrition & Dietetics


  1. Gianopoulos, K. “Agencies Can Improve Efforts to Address Risks Posed by Changing Counterfeit Market.” U.S. Government Accountability Office. Jan 30, 2018. https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-216.

Rocha T., Amaral S., Oliveira M. “Adulteration of Dietary Supplements by the Illegal Addition of Synthetic Drugs: A Review.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. Oct 19, 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1541-4337