CASE Test: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Supplements
 
A test on fifteen types of Vitamin C supplements by CASE found that most brands contained ascorbic acid as per the stated amount on their product claims.
 
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient for humans. Vitamin C supplements are commonly consumed for the purpose of supplementing the diet and enhancing health. These supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, soft gels and liquids.
 
Vitamin C supplements are currently not subject to approvals, licensing or registration before being sold in the local market. They are also not assessed for their effectiveness by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). Health supplement dealers do not need to apply for a permit from HSA before they advertise their health supplement products. However, dealers are responsible for determining that the claims on their products are accurate and truthful. The label and packaging material should also provide sufficient information to enable consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing and consuming the products.
 
Under the current regulatory system administered by HSA, it is not a statutory requirement to screen or check the advertisements of such products. The advertisements of consumer goods, including health supplements, are governed by the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, issued by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS).
 
To ensure that businesses do not mislead consumers with untruthful advertising and product labels, CASE decided to do a Vitamin C supplements test. In September 2014, CASE officers purchased 15 different brands of Vitamin C health supplements at various retail stores, and sent them to a designated lab for testing. The objective of the test was to determine if the amount of Vitamin C content in the supplements matches the claims on their product labels.
 
The test was conducted based on British Pharmacopeia 2014, a reference standard for medicinal substances for human and veterinary use in the UK. The British Pharmacopeia states that the amount of Vitamin C in the supplement should be within 95.0 to 107.5% of the stated amount in the label.
 
Test results showed that all samples except Blackmores Bio C 1000 Plus Bioflavonoids and Ocean Health Buffered C-500 Acid-free with bioflavonoids, were within the range (see table below).
 
The Vitamin C content in both Blackmores Bio C 1000 Plus Bioflavonoids and Ocean Health Buffered C-500 Acid-free with bioflavonoids have exceeded the claims on their product labels by 12.5% and 9.3% respectively, which fell outside the acceptance range. However, considering that they are health supplements, a slight increase in the Vitamin C content still makes the product safe for consumption, provided that consumers keep to the recommended dosage.
 
Although we were unable to include all available Vitamin C supplements sold in Singapore, our selected samples covered the more popular brands which are conveniently found in local pharmacies and departmental stores. Hence, we can conclude that the majority of the Vitamin C health supplements brands are truthful in their advertising claims.
 
CASE advises consumers to compare the nutritional information and ingredients between brands before deciding which to purchase. They should also only purchase their health supplements from licensed retailers and consume the supplements according to the product’s recommended dosage.
 
CASE is committed to protect the interest of consumers. We will continue to highlight any unfair or unsafe practices in the marketplace.
 
 
No. Brand Item Type Declared Amount of Vitamin C (mg) per tablet/capsule/gummy Test Results
(% of declared amount)
Acceptance Criteria*: 
95.0 to 107.5% 
(British Pharmacopeia 2014)
1 21st Century Slow Release Vitamin C-500 Tablets 500 99.5 Within
2 BioScience Vitamin C-500 With Rose Hips & Bioflavonoids (Sustained Release) Tablets 500 103.7 Within
3 Blackmores Bio C 1000 Plus Bioflavonoids Tablets 1000 112.5 Outside
4 GNC Vitamin C 500 Dietary Supplement with rose hips Tablets 500 100.9 Within
5 GreenLife Vitamin C-1000 with Rose Hips (Anti-Oxidant) Capsugel 1000 97.0 Within
6 Holistic Way Antioxident Vitamin C Non-Acidic 1000mg Bioflavonoids Caplets 1000 103.5 Within
7 Holland & Barrett Vitamin C-1000mg and Wild Rose Hips, Immune System Support Caplets 1000 103.8 Within
8 Kordel's Acid Free C 1000mg Tablets 820# 97.4 Within
9 Nature's Way Total-C Daily Immune Support, Vitamin C 500mg plus Bioflavonoids, Rutin & Hesperidin Capsules 500 95.5 Within
10 Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies 250 mg Vitamin C for Immune System Support Gummies 125 96.3 Within
11 Ocean Health Buffered C-500 Acid-free with bioflavonoids Chewable Tablets 500 109.3 Outside
12 Redoxon Double Action Vitamin C & Zinc (Orange Chewable Tablets) Tablets 500 102.3 Within
13 Shaklee Sustained Release Vita-C 500 mg Dietary Supplement Tablets 500 102.2 Within
14 Sunkist Chewable Tropical Breeze Vitamin C 500mg Tablets 500 97.7 Within
15 VitaHealth Time-Released Acid-Free Vitamin C 500 Tablets 410# 102.2 Within
 

*The British Pharmacopeia 2014 states that the amount of Vitamin C in the supplement should be within 95.0 to 107.5% of the stated amount in the label.

#1000mg calcium ascorbate = 820mg ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

 
Consumer Complaints Filed With CASE - Sim Lim Square
 
(For the 3 months of Sep - Nov 2014)

To identify tenants with the highest number of customer complaints filed with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).
 
No. Name Unit Number No. of Complaints
1 Gadget Terminal Pte Ltd #02-80 14
2 Mobile22 Pte Ltd #01-42 14
3 Mackin Pte Ltd #02-87 7
4 Megacentrix Technologies** #02-77 7
5 Mobile Apps Pte Ltd #01-50 7
6 K-One Mobile LLP #01-40 5
7 SLR Pro Pte Ltd #01-56 5
 
*Figures are accurate as of 1st December 2014. Table will be updated monthly.
 
**Megacentrix Technologies' business registration status at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) as of 2nd December 2014 is "Terminated".
Sim Lim Square Management (MCST 1440) supports this initiative.

 
 
 
CASE: Suggestions to manage recalcitrant retailers at Sim Lim Square and People’s Park Complex
 
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) is extremely concerned about the large increase in the number of complaints involving errant retailers located at Sim Lim Square and People’s Park Complex. We have been working hard to resolve the disputes among businesses and consumers but these errant retailers have refused to cooperate and have continued their unfair practices without heeding our warning letters.
 
While CASE is able to invite retailers to sign a Voluntary Compliance Agreement to stop their unfair practices from time to time, we believe that the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) of both malls should also do their part to strengthen the enforcement process against recalcitrant offenders. As such the support of MCST is essential in cracking down errant retailers and ensure that they cease their dishonest business tactics.
 
After an in-depth discussion on this issue among our Central Committee, CASE decided to send a letter to the MCST of these two malls on 28 November 2014. The letter contains our suggestions to reduce the number of recalcitrant retailers operating at the two malls.
 
We appeal to the MCST to amend their Rules and By-Laws to make it mandatory for all landlords to state that retailers must conduct their business in accordance to fair practices set out under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) in their rental agreements. If the landlord carries out their own retail business, the landlord should also be bound by duty to engage in fair practices under the CPFTA.
 
If the retailers or landlords breach the CPFTA, the MCST should have the authority to compel the landlords to terminate the rental agreement and if necessary, impose severe penalties on the landlords and/or retailers that are in breach of the Act. If the landlord runs the business and breaches the CPFTA and/or continue to allow the tenants to breach the CPFTA, the MCST should have the power to force sell the property to another owner.
 
CASE has always been an advocate of consumer rights and fair trading. We await the MCST’s response by 5 December 2014.
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