Health News

Store-Brand Aloe Gels Don’t Even Contain Aloe Vera

Photo from Pixabay

Aloe vera plants are known for their healing properties, particularly as a balm for sunburns and other skin conditions. But customers who have purchased store-branded gels from places like Walmart, Target and CVS may want to take a second look at their purchases, as a study says these gels might not even contain aloe vera at all.

Bloomberg News commissioned a lab to test these aloe gels, and found that while all of the stores mentioned above listed aloe vera juice as the first or second ingredient in their products, none of them showed any of the markers that signified the presence of real aloe vera.

These findings come on the heels of increasing concerns on the lack of government regulations when it comes to cosmetics and body-care products. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits companies from mislabeling ingredients, but cosmetics and hygiene items don’t need approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, other than for color additives, CBS News reports.

Questions were raised last year when customers complained that Wen Hair Care, a shampoo line, caused rashes and hair loss, bringing on a spate of lawsuits against the company.

As for these aloe gels, some customers have already filed lawsuits on the grounds of false advertising and negligent misrepresentation, among other complaints. One of the plaintiffs complained, “No consumer would have purchased the product had they known it contained no aloe vera,” in a suit against Target.

Target declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Randy Hargrove, a spokesperson for Walmart, says the retailer isn’t planning on pulling the supposedly aloe-less products from their shelves. He said,

We hold our suppliers to high standards and are committed to providing our customers the quality products they expect. We contacted our supplier, and they stand behind the authenticity of their products.

Fruit of the Earth, Walmart’s supplier, said it intends to dispute Bloomberg’s findings. John Dondrea, counsel for the company, said, “We have also had tests conducted on the raw aloe material used in our gel products, which show the presence of the alleged marker (acemannan) that Bloomberg reported finding no evidence of.”

CVS also defended its aloe gels, saying, “We are committed to bringing high quality products to consumers, and maintain ongoing contact with suppliers to ensure that they meet our high standards,” the company said in a statement. “We have reviewed with the supplier, and they have affirmed the product’s authenticity.”

The aloe vera niche is a big, bright spot for retailers, as the US market alone has grown 11% in the last year, according to Bloomberg.

Lab tests for the study came back showing maltodextrin, a cheap filler for aloe items. There were allegedly no traces of acemannan, malic acid and glucose – three markers for aloe vera.

For now, the best bet is to use the actual aloe vera plant as a treatment. The succulent can be kept in a pot, and its leaves can just be cut and applied directly onto a cut or burn, proponents recommend.

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