CRN Challenges Ban on Creatine Sales to Minors


A new bill introduced in the New York State Assembly seeks to prohibit the sale or distribution of creatine to minors.

The Honorable Linda Rosenthal, assemblywoman in the New York State Assembly, has introduced a bill (AB 4712) that would prohibit the sale or distribution of the dietary-supplement ingredient creatine to minors. Rosenthal’s bill follows years of concerns about creatine use being linked to liver damage, but the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) has challenged the conclusions of the report Rosenthal appears to be basing her legislation on.

The bill, which Rosenthal introduced on February 3, would prohibit “any retail establishment from selling dietary supplements that contain creatine to individuals under eighteen years of age; [and] provides that any retail establishment in violation shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars per violation.”

But in a letter sent to Rosenthal on February 10, CRN’s Ingrid Lebert, senior director of government relations, expresses concern that the bill was “singling out a dietary supplement product with a strong and proven safety record.” Lebert notes the proposed legislation appears to be based on recommendations from a report created several years ago by New Jersey’s Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention. That report suggested links between creatine use and kidney damage, but Lebert challenges the validity of those conclusions.

“This assertion is based on a total of two published case reports in which the affected individuals were suffering from existing underlying renal disease,” Lebert writes. She added that, “In fact, other, more reliable (i.e. double-blind, randomized, controlled intervention) studies demonstrate the safety of long-term creatine use in both healthy individuals and clinical populations, specifically as it relates to renal function. In consideration of this, there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever to support the notion that creatine use may adversely affect kidney function in healthy individuals.”

To the contrary, Lebert points out, the “overwhelming majority” of trials published on creatine have had positive outcomes, with a “general consensus showing the safe and beneficial effects from creatine supplementation, particularly during short, repeated bursts of high-intensity activity.” The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSSN) have both affirmed the overall safety and efficacy of creatine supplements, Lebert explains, in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Creatine can also be readily found in the food supply, including in red meat, fish, and poultry, and it is a “naturally occurring amino acid–like compound made in the liver,” the letter notes.

Lebert also suggests that any effort to place mandatory age restrictions on the sale of creatine supplements may force many retailers to stop selling such products altogether, which would make it more difficult for even consumers of legal age to purchase creatine supplements.

Even before Rosenthal’s bill, creatine had already made headlines in 2017 after a study published in Pediatrics suggested that employees of U.S. health food stores were largely willing to recommend teenage boys take creatine supplements. The study involved a 20-year-old male researcher who posed as a 15-year-old football player and contacted 244 health food stores by phone to see if sales attendants would recommend he take creatine or a testosterone-boosting supplement. The study found that 67.2% of the attendants did recommend the 15-year-old boy take creatine, while 30.3% recommended against him taking creatine, and 2.5% refused to make a recommendation over the phone.


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Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine

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