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Question

If dietary supplements sometimes contain untested and possibly dangerous ingredients, why do military bases sell them?

OPSS Answer

Military Exchanges have a dual mission to offer competitively priced goods and services and generate earnings to support morale, welfare, and recreation programs. Because dietary supplements are widely marketed and available from both civilian retail stores and websites, military shoppers want to purchase the same products found in their local economy. Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are no exception, and in response to customer demands, supplements are sold at Exchanges. Although the military mission is unique, its members represent a cross section of society and generally parallel those of their civilian counterparts.

Exchanges make no attempt to influence military customers’ buying choices. Although it is best to strive to receive nutrients from a healthy diet, supplements provide additional nutrients when the diet is lacking. Additionally, scientific evidence supports the benefits of some dietary supplements for certain health conditions such as iron deficiency.

The Exchanges have an exemplary track record when it comes to complying with state, federal, and military regulatory guidance concerning product safety. Exchanges have robust Quality Assurance processes that ensure defective or dangerous merchandise is promptly removed from shelves if a product is deemed unsafe by the Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Last reviewed 17 April 2014

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