The summary of bill (#A04712), which was sponsored by the Honorable Linda Rosenthal and introduced to the New York State Assembly earlier this month, reads as follows: “Prohibit any retail establishment from selling dietary supplements that contain creatine to individuals under eighteen years of age; provides that any retail establishment in violation shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars per violation.”

Despite industry concerns and push back, the question remains: Will New York state ban the sale of creatine to minors?

Recent Years: Creatine Supplements in the Spotlight

As many who work in or with the nutraceutical industry can attest, creatine is no stranger to the spotlight. From the turn of the millennium to present, efforts to limit the sale of creatine to minors have been the focus of several state-level bills (in both New York and New Jersey), though to date – state-sponsored bills limiting the sale of creatine have been passed.

Most recently, it was an article published in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics that managed to capture the attention of consumers, legislators, and industry insiders and reinvigorate the discourse surrounding the sale of creatine to minors.

As stated in the article’s abstract, the background and objective for the researchers involved were as follows:

”Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations against pediatric use of creatine and testosterone boosters, research suggests that many young teenagers take these dietary supplements. Our objective was to determine to what extent health food stores would recommend and/or sell creatine and testosterone boosters to a 15-year-old boy customer.”

Relying on a sample of size of 244 health food stores located in the US, the researchers asked a sales attendants a serious of questions (via the telephone) concerning which supplements they would recommend to a 15-year-old (male) high school athlete.

What they concluded was that “[h]ealth food store employees frequently recommend creatine and testosterone boosters for boy high school athletes. In response to these findings, pediatricians should inform their teenage patients, especially athletes, about safe, healthy methods to improve athletic performance and discourage them from using creatine or testosterone boosters. Retailers and state legislatures should also consider banning the sale of these products to minors.”

The Nutraceutical Industry’s Response to Proposed Creatine Ban

One of the more notable responses to the study published in Pediatrics came from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

In a press release and statement from the organization’s president & CEO, Steven Mister, released on January 4th, 2017, the Council asserted the following statements:

“Dietary supplements, including creatine, can play a valuable role in supporting healthy lifestyles for people of all ages, and it is especially important for younger populations—such as adolescents and teenagers—to discuss their dietary supplement use with their parents, coaches, doctors or other healthcare practitioners. As with any supplement, creatine is intended to supplement a healthy diet in combination with other healthy habits. Creatine—or any sport supplement—is not a shortcut or a substitute for the hard work and training that is required to excel in athletics.

There is no known safety issue that would prevent healthy people from using creatine. Out of an overabundance of caution, some companies that manufacture creatine have noted on the product labels that it is not recommended for people under the age of 18. This recommendation is to encourage responsible use by its consumers; this does not suggest any safety concerns. However, extreme measures, such as putting something behind a counter, will only make a product more enticing for that specific population looking to be protected and unnecessarily limit access and availability for all consumers.”

Other leading industry organizations, like the Natural Products Association (NPA), have come forward with similar statements acknowledging the large body of scientific research supporting the safe supplementation of creatine in both teens and adults.

Will NYS ban the sale of creatine to minors?

As of now, the answer to this question remains unclear. That being said, if previous efforts to draft bills and legislation limiting the sale of creatine supplements to minors are any indication, bill A04712 may have a long road ahead of it.

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