The 1960s saw the burgeoning of the health and fitness movement. In response to consumer demand for vitamins and other supplements, Lackzoom changed its name to GNC, or General Nutrition Company in 1960.
In addition to selling health foods, GNC started producing their own brand of vitamin and mineralsupplements, as well as beverages and cosmetics. This marked the beginning of the production of generic supplements.
As of September 2014, GNC had more than 8,800 locations, 6,500 of which are located in the United States. GNC has franchise locations in over 50 countries around the world, and has company-owned locations in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Ireland.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
GNC Supports Several Philanthropic Organizations
In 2009, GNC raised money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Societyduring reality star Phil Keoghan’s 40-day bike “Ride Across America.” The company established donation stations in multiple store locations and collected $300,000 in the first 30 days of Keoghan’sride.
GNC joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a partner in 2006. Since then, the company has raised more than $16.5 million for St. Jude’s patients and families. Families never receive a bill for treatment,travel, housing, or food at St. Jude’s and GNC is essential to keeping that mission alive.
GNC Has Been Accused of Selling Fraudulent and Laced Products
Despite their honesty claims, GNC has come under speculation by the government and health advocates. An investigation conducted in early 2015 revealed that a number of supplements from different retailers were both ineffective and potentially dangerous.
GNC Was Found to Use Cheap Fillers Instead of Herbs
Four out of five supplements did not contain any of the herbson their labels. Those that claimed to contain medicinal herbs contained cheap fillers, such as powdered rice and houseplants. These could be dangerous to people with allergies.
GNC Vowed to Ensure Authenticity of All Herbal Supplements
In March 2015, GNC reached an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman concerning the company’s Herbal Plus products. GNC pledged to be more vigilant in testing its supplementsand to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s manufacturing recommendations.
By September 2016, GNC will perform DNA barcoding on all plant ingredients used in its products to test purity and authenticity. They will also provide more prominent labelingto inform customers about any extracts within the supplements.
One of these illegal ingredients is picamilon, a Russian prescription drug used to treat neurological conditions. The other is BMPEA, which was first produced in the 1930s as a replacement for amphetamines. It has never been tested for safety in humans.
GNC formally responded to the lawsuit, saying that the claims made by the Oregon Attorney General were unfounded. “In response to FDA statements regarding the regulatory status of BMPEA and picamilon,” the company stated, “GNC promptly took action to remove from sale all products containing those ingredients.”