Police called as defender of fish oil company named in lawsuit threatens physical violence against consumer advocates
Secaucus, NJ, Apr. 28— Promoters of a trade show for the nutritional supplements industry in Secaucus, N.J., ejected one of their own paying exhibitors on Tuesday for raising questions about the levels of toxic PCBs found in popular fish oil pills that are marketed to consumers, including pregnant women and children. Police were also summoned around 1:30 p.m. after a man who identified himself as a conference exhibitor doing business with Now Foods, used obscene gestures and threatened physical violence against FishOilSafety.com co-founder Chris Manthey.
Now Foods was among the defendants, who also include CVS Pharmacy, Inc.; General Nutrition Corp. (GNC); Now Health Group, Inc.; Omega Protein, Inc.; Pharmavite LLC (Nature Made brand); Rite Aid Corp.; Solgar, Inc.; and TwinLab Corp, in a lawsuit filed last month against eight fish oil supplement makers and retailers for failing to warn consumers about the PCB contamination.
Jenny Bolton, president and CEO of Virgo Publishing, which organized the SupplySide East trade show at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, called security and ordered Manthey and his fellow exhibitors Benson Chiles and Allison Lenthall off the property, along with their trade show booth for FishOilSafety.com, which had been on display for less than an hour. She then issued a press release calling the display “inappropriate” and that they acted to “ensure the integrity” of the trade show. Earlier, Virgo Publishing Vice President of Health and Nutrition Peggy Jackson confronted Shane Starling, an editor for NutraIngredients-USA who had interviewed Manthey, claiming that Starling ought to be protecting the industry.
“It’s remarkable that the supplement industry, whose trade group bills itself as ‘The Council for Responsible Nutrition,’ abandons responsibility when it conflicts with protecting short-term profit interest,” commented FishOilSaftety.com co-founder Benson Chiles. “We were there to educate industry leaders about the risks associated with certain toxic fish oil supplements. What’s ‘inappropriate’ about that?”
In March 2010 FishOilSafety.com hosted a similar exhibition booth at the World Aquaculture Society conference in San Diego. “We had a great experience in San Diego,” said Chiles. “Responsible industry participants are appreciative of our efforts.”
The group was banned from the rest of the three-day conference even though they had spent over $4,000 to rent a space for the booth, which described how a testing laboratory found that some brands of fish oil supplements contain 70 times higher levels of toxic PCBs than others.
“Some fish oil makers, most notably Nordic Naturals, have agreed that consumers should have access to accurate information about environmental contaminants,” said Manthey. “But much of the industry continues to maintain that their products are safe, while refusing to release results to consumers of tests of their products.” He said consumers who need to take fish oil supplements for medical reasons ought to be given the information so they can avoid the most contaminated ones.
Interested media can speak with the attorneys in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, and concerned consumers by contacting Patricia Charles at [email protected] or (301) 887-1060 ext. 111.