Gary Collins: Ex-FDA Agent Exposes Overnight Health Experts & What’s Really in Your Supplements

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Watch or listen to this week’s episode with Gary Collins…


Gary Collins was a special agent for the FDA. Now, he’s a ruthless consumer watchdog—down in the dirt trying to keep the supplement and pharmaceutical industries clean and honest, which is quite a monumental task.

In this week’s episode, Gary pulls back the curtain on what the FDA knows that the public doesn’t—information that just may be keeping you from having a lean and healthy body.

In this episode, we’ll reveal:

  • The truth about the explosion of “sham supplement” companies — is your vitamin laced?
  • Why you should never trust a diet book written by a celebrity.
  • Which ADHD meds are practically street meth.
  • Overnight “experts,” and why they are usually just clever marketers.
  • How and where to buy good quality supplements that are safe.

This interview is so raw and honest that I was absolutely shocked by some of the things I learned. Do yourself, and the health of your family a huge favor and watch this episode!

Gary also just released The Organic Caveman, and it covers everything from GMO’s to polyculture and teaches you how to bring organic food into your lifestyle. Check it out on his website.


I grew up an athlete and self-admitted redneck—hunting and fishing. I went to college for criminal justice and health science. After college, I went into the military. After that, I worked in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When I burned out on investigation, I ended up in the FDA where I went out of the frying pan and into the fire.

What does a special agent job for the FDA look like?

It’s working with all the different agencies investigation crimes. It involves search warrants and affidavits just like any other type of investigation—only we’re investigating cases of counterfeit drugs, food, supplements, scam companies. Stuff like that.

We’re going after that guy who’s selling you a cream that actually has an active drug ingredients when it’s not supposed to. Or the online Viagra that has too much active ingredient or is nothing but sawdust.

What kinds of consumer goods are being counterfeited? One time, I found a case of counterfeited Campbell’s Soup, and I’ve found counterfeit catsup, too. Centrum vitamins have been counterfeited in China for years.

These scam artists make it almost impossible for us to shut them down. They put up a complicated web of shells and fronts and an endless succession of new companies. If you shut one down, they pop up in a new name with the same product the next day.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. There’s good and bad to that. It’s good because we can do what we want—and it’s bad because the bad guys can do what they want, too.


Don’t go to Walmart (or whatever big box store) and buy whichever bottle is 50% off. Do that and you’re rolling the dice, and you’ll probably end up causing more harm than good.

Use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true (“Lose 100 pounds eating anything you want!” for example.), then it probably is.

If it’s really cheap, it’s probably garbage.

Never buy from multi-level marketing companies. If a product is good, why would you need everyone in your family and neighborhood to sell it in order to buy it? It makes no sense. In my [Gary’s] many years of experience, I have yet to find a good MLM company product.

NEVER buy supplements off of Ebay. You really do not know what you’re getting.

Don’t buy on Amazon, unless you’re buying directly from the source. When you go to a product page on Amazon, there’s a little box that tells you the seller. Don’t just look at that box, actually click on it. That will take you to the seller’s page. If the link you follow goes to a different company than what’s “listed” as the seller, don’t buy the supplement. It’s a scam.

Stay away from supplements that are owned by big pharmaceutical or personal care companies. Sometimes a small company puts out a great product, then they’re bought by big business and the formulas all change.


Go to your small, local health food store. The employees running the vitamin and supplement section are usually well-trained and have experience in the area. Ask them which brand supplement is best for whatever you’re trying to address. Make sure they know you’re serious and you don’t want any BS.

Go to an expert for advice or to order your supplements. Find someone who’s not a supplement store [such as Gary] to order your supplements from, but make sure they’re well-trusted and have a solid background in wellness.

Make sure the supplement you buy is lab tested. If it’s not, then anything could be in there and they could make any claim they want.

Ask people who are on it. That’s really the best way to find something good—just be wary if someone has fantastic results on a cheap-o supplement. Sham companies will sometimes lace just a few of each batch with performance-enhancing drugs to amp up the hype over this “miracle” product.

Go for small brands that have been around a while. Like Megafoods is a good example. This means they have some credibility. Do your homework, it’s your body we’re talking about!

Counterfeit supplements can be worthless, or dangerous, or both. Some supplements are doped to get results, but they don’t always dope the entire line. They’ll drop in an active drug so some random consumer will get a bottle and feel great, but the next time they purchase it, there will be no effects at all. Oops, and it’s too late for that 30-day money back guarantee!

HERBS can be loaded with heavy metals and toxins. Even with the USDA organics, you just don’t know anymore because the process isn’t regulated.

What kind of water are they using?

Where are the herbs grown?

Are they using herbicides and pesticides? Which ones?

Is this organic farm built on top of an old farm that might still be leaching chemicals?

If you’re private labeling, you can start a supplement company online for a few hundred bucks. This means that you just slap your company branding on a bottle of supplements made by the larger manufacturer. There are new private labeled brands popping up every single day, and the problem is that you just don’t know what you’re getting.

ADhD meds for children are just one atom off from street meth. *In fact, patients taking a methamphetamine for ADhD can often test positive on a drug test, and can have a propensity for addiction.

Everyone wants a quick fix, but the only way to optimal health is slow and steady. Take a couple of new supplements at a time, max. Throw on your running shoes and get moving. Eat right. There is no magic bottle. And for gosh sakes…

Don’t take advice from celebrities! TV sells controversy and star-power. Cameron Diaz recently wrote a book on total optimal health. Fine, great for her that she found what works in her life. But what’s the point of the book? It’s to make money. She doesn’t have a background in health. She’s never consulted with clients and seen the straight-on effects of what she’s slinging. It just doesn’t make sense.

Abel: The thing that got me sick was listening to the wrong doctors and relying on celebrity books.

Gary: I’ve investigated a lot of doctors during my career, so there was a time that I didn’t go to a doctor for two years because I was only seeing the bad ones. There are good out there, too.

RED FLAG= someone claiming to be a health expert when they have no background in the field. One of these “overnight experts” once said that because modern medicine has it all wrong, it’s better to start with a blank template. That guy had never had a biology or biochemistry class. No nutrition or physiology. Hmmm, who knows more?

If someone has “learned the secret” to optimal health, or they’ve “uncovered a hidden ingredient” like in Subway’s bread, that doesn’t mean they’re a health expert. That one ingredient in Subway bread isn’t what’s making our nation fat and sick. It’s eating that garbage in the first place that’s doing it. That person with one secret or one find has no background in anything related to health but suddenly they’re a sensation. Best to turn the other way… and run!

Gary’s got three books out, available on his website and on Amazon: Primal Power Method Change Your Body. Change Your Life.; Primal Power Method Quick Super Easy Primal Paleo Recipes; and Primal Power Method The Organic Caveman. The Organic Caveman has just been released, and it covers everything from GMO’s to polyculture and teaches you how to bring organic food into your lifestyle.


Discover how to drop fat with chocolate, bacon, and cheesecake. Plus: learn the 3 worst foods you should NEVER eat and the 7 best exercises for rapid fat loss. Click below to to claim your FREE gift ($17 value)!

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  1. I’ve heard Gary several time on the Survival Podcast and he is very negative towards almost everyone in the Paleo movement.
    What is an expert anyway? The experts have been killing us with their advice for decades..especially those in the government where his background originates.
    By his criteria Abel, you are a phoney because you have no background or credentials like his.

    As an aside, I like his books and what he has to say when it’s just about exercise and nutrition, but the people bashing is when he loses me. He also has some good article over at the Brink of Freedom blog

    I’ll give it a listen and see if he is more humble in this podcast.
    My comments are more of a FYI than anything.


  2. Gary Collins says:

    Hey AJ,

    I appreciate your opinion, that is what the 1st Amendment is all about. I do want to clarify, the negative comment of The Paleo crowd. I know what TSP episode you are talking about, and I apologized, as I was really frustrated with the tactics some in the Paleo/Ancestral health world use, and how they backdoor attack some of us, because they know people like me can see right through them. I will not go into it hear, but there are some really horrible people in the movement.

    I don’t only go after people in the Paleo community, and I don’t make a habit of it. I go after people who are full of crap period, and only when it comes to my attention ,or someone points it out to me. I never search for it, and will not do it on a regular basis, I’ve said my piece, but I will not steer away from controversy if I think it will help my followers or the general public.

    It appears I’m the only one who is willing to call the hacks out when I see them. My feeling is it has to be done from time to time to keep people in the business as honest as you can.

    You have to remember I see things through a different pair of glasses, my BS meter is pretty sensitive. I’m also around a lot of the folks in the Paleo/Primal/Ancestral and health movement in general, so I get to see what they are really about. Trust me I don’t do this for the money, I truly love what I do and wear my passion on my sleeve, which is good and bad.

    No matter, I’m glad you were able to see past what you view as “bashing” or “negative” and enjoy my books and other written material. They truly come from a good place, and my love for helping people.

    Gary Collins
    Creator of the Primal Power Method

    • Gary,

      Thanks for the passionate, well thought out reply.

      I think my wording may have been a little hyperbolic and not really relate-able to this podcast episode.
      Had I read the show notes first, I may have not been so harsh and judgmental..I guess that is my passion coming before thinking.
      I’ll listen to the full episode tonight

      I’m glad Abel had you on..


      • Gary Collins says:


        No worries, I do it sometimes too, well you already know that 🙂 Abel is a really good guy, and we have had some interesting talks about the movement and where everything is going. I’m in the middle of starting a new video based show, and definitely plan to have Abel on, and my blog too.

        I’m out in the boonies working on my “Off The Grid” project, so good bandwidth is hard to get at the moment to do interviews. Have to keep all my videos short, but I will get back to it soon.

        Thanks for the support and love that you are a TSP follower, Jack and I have become good friends, I love what he does.


  3. Thank-you, Thank-you Thank you…to both Gary and Abel for this great interview. Your information is not what many people are going to want to hear, but really need to listen to…and quite carefully!

  4. Thanks for the outstanding podcast and information as usual, Abel. This type of information is exactly why I listen to your podcasts. Information that helps us lay-people cut through all the garbage on the ‘net and get to the truth, just like you and Gary were talking about. I rely on the information I get from you and one or two other podcasts because I, like most other folks, don’t have the time to spend doing the primary or even secondary research on all this stuff. I’ll be listening to this one quite often.

  5. Love the podcast so far. This episode had some good info but there’s a balance between finding truth and being an overal critic of everything… which was most of this episode (“rants”) – that’s easy to do (but not a great fit for TBM podcast IMO).

  6. Thankyou Gary and Abel I thoroughly enjoyed your discussions and YES Gary I will buy your book. I dont actually take supplements other than a quality anti-oxidant ( hope its a quality brand anyway) Astaxanthin. I bought it off Amazon and I am believing its a quality supplement being organic but I now need to do more research just in case duh !!!! I also do kefirs and kombuchas as well as following the ketogenic healthy eating. The Glutathione in the Kefir whey ( from raw milk) is another of the highest anti oxidants.

    I find it very worrying as people try to make changes in their lives to get healthy that BIG PHARMA is alway sone step ahead of them and all these supplements are flooding the markets on one way or another.

    keep doing your good … thanks a zilions

    ps Abel I got the wild diet too 🙂

    • Gary Collins says:


      I come across like the “carnival barker self-proclaimed expert he rants about.” Huh! I have nearly 4 decades in organized sports, competitive sports, nutrition, working with clients, and not to include all my other in the government experience and education. I’m a little puzzled how you come to that conclusion.

      I’m guessing you are a Chris Kresser fan, which is fine. But you are obviously biased in your opinion, as Dr, Cordain puts Chris Kresser in his place big time, not just me. When someone acts like a total idiot on national TV, which Kresser did and hurts the movement, you bet I’m going to call them out by name. Did you bother to listen to the interview Kresser’s buddy Robb Wolf and him did? Tthey flat out admit that it is more important to promote yourself on TV, and say something that is not true (foods acceptable on Paleo that are not) than it is to do the right thing, which would have been to back out of the show. That crazy thing called integrity seems to be lost these days, especially by the majority of the group Kresser associates himself with.

      So instead, we just sit back and hold hands surrounded by puppies and butterflies to make sure no one is offended. Sorry, but I spent a large part of my life protecting the freedoms for people like, and I will not give into the Political Correctness crowd. I even invited Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser to be on my show to give their side of the story to have a civilized conversation about the matter. Still waiting for their reply, that paints a pretty clear picture for me.

      So if by calling Kresser out and helping a huge number of people who are confused by such advice, makes me an asshole. So be it, I will stick by my guns and take the heat. I’m more interested in helping people than being on Dr. Oz for a cheap plug.

  7. Yvete Coleman says:

    Really …? Never buy from ANY MLM company? Even Usana which are US pharmaceutical grade and FDA registered? Gary presents himself as an expert but he made several incorrect/refutable statements about Usana in his criticisms of MLM. He says that they don’t even have customers , that the sellers are the customers and that to be customer you have to sell them. WRONG. Usana has as many (or perhaps even more) retail or direct customers than it has associate/promoters. He also says he can guarantee it’s garbage. Really?? Even with all the 3rd party testing endorsements from NSF, HFL, Consumer Lab etc ? Later he contradicts this by saying if you are buying directly from the company you trust that’s probably OK …and that you can trust supplements tested by Consumer Lab. Has Gary never heard of or investigated Usana, which has been around now 22years: in his words a ‘long time’? Sorry but not ALL MLM companies are flawed or false. Some do produce ‘Nutritionals you can trust’.

    • Gary Collins says:


      I’m guessing you are a rep for Usana. And yes I have heard of them, their reps are the worst offenders for pitching their products on social media (especially LinkedIn). Matter of fact Usana reps hold the record for me blocking them, on my various social media accounts

      The only people who are outraged when I state how I feel about MLM’s, are the owner or current reps for MLM’s. If you listen to what I said and explain, even if an MLM produces a good product, you are going to pay more than it is actually worth, because of the multiple levels of people who have to get their cut off the product. When you break down how an MLM works, for me it just makes no sense to purchase from as a consumer. I guess I’m just some simpleton with 3 degrees and over a decade as an investigator, who just doesn’t get it.

      I’m sorry you seem to be offended by my remarks, but I will stand by them 100%. I find MLM tactics to be offensive at the least, and criminal at the worst. I have already gone through this with an admitted MLM creator and owner on Abel’s YouTube channel, but for anyone who wants the most comprehensive research and articles on MLM’s here is the link:

      Gary Collins

  8. Some good info and some fallacies and misconceptions. FDA and FTC have a fair amount of regulatory power over the dietary supplement industry and always have. I have been in this business over 30 years and have seen it all.
    Like any other market, there are bad MLMs and good ones. Just as there are horrible professional brands and very good ones. The same holds true in all nutritrional market segments. J&J did not buy New Chapter, P&G did. And their attention to every detail is above and beyond FDA standards. The size of the company is not relevant. Nor the longevity.
    Our company (a custom manufacturer for over 100 brands) has been audited several times over the last 3 years by FDA and has done well. We are also audited by contractors from WalMart and other retail outlets. They have too much to lose to not have quality products.
    Basically there are a few layers to examine in a supplement. One is the formulation – does it answer your needs both in the ingredients and their quantity and quality. There are products that have too little of too much or use inferior sources of ingredients. Next is everything that is on the label in the product at the stated quantities. And equally as important is there anything in the product that isn’t on the label? All raw materials and finished products we make are tested and comply with safety levels of potential toxins be they chemical, heavy metal or microbiological.
    A smaller company at this point is not subject to the same rigor as a larger company. That will change over time, but to comply with FDA cGMPs is a costly investment for a small company.
    Multibillion dollar drug companies have products that are potentially toxic and often times only sparingly effective. Their multibillion factories have made fatal errors in production as well. They also have political and economic clout to keep these under the radar.
    A few thoughts to give a cleared picture of the state of the industry.
    Keep up the great work Abel!

  9. Christopher says:

    Abel, I love your show! Keep up the good work.

    I found this podcast very interesting, but I have to admit that when I visited Gary’s site, I was very disappointed. For all the talk, he comes across just like the carnival barker self-proclaimed experts he rants about.

    After I read his interview with Loren Cordain where he bashes Chris Kresser, it bothered me that you spoke out in support of him “calling out by name” people in the Paleo world. Both Gary and Lauren come across like supreme assholes in that article, that’s the last thing we need.

    I do appreciate the info and exhortation to be careful about where you buy supplements from, though.

    • Cathryn,

      Not sure what to think that is a strange website, has a weird slant to it and raises red flags on its own. The author of the article looks like she is 12, and when I clicked on her profile it says I have to register just to see it. Consumer Labs is not perfect, but for the consumer it is the most affordable and a place to start. For you to get a supplement or food product tested on your own you are easily looking at $1,000 to $2, 000. As I said, your best bet is always with a knowledgeable sales person at your local health food store.

  10. Abel interesting podcast, but I totally disagree with Gary when he says “your best bet is always with a knowledgeable sales person at your local health food store”. GNC, Vitaman Shoppe, Whole Foods, & Sprouts do not usually hire qualified poeple. I have gone to all of these stores and the people working there are primarly to sell whatever is the flavor of the day. The employees usually have only cursory knowlege of supplements and nutrition. In my experience the qualifications for hiring someone to sell suppments are little to none.

  11. This dude brought me down. All I seemed to hear was his résumé, how bad everyone else is, and buy my book and pills. By the way did you know how many years I worked for the government. That’s not a statement that I would be proud of.
    All that said, I love your podcast Abel. The reason I listen is to hear many different viewpoints. I have stopped listening to many of the other paleo podcasts because it gets a bit boring to constantly hear the same thing. Not a problem on your podcast. Thanks for bringing so many people together in one place. If you bring this guy back on, I will likely just delete it. No harm no foul. I’ll just listen to the next one. I appreciate all of your hard work. Thanks again and cheers. See what I did there, borrowed your sign off.

  12. Hey Gary, how about naming some names of companies that are decent? I heard your warnings, and agree with most of them, but I’d like you to give some examples of products and companies you’ve found that are honest (aside from your own). For example, how about a few whey products?

  13. Gary, this podcast really got me thinking thank you so much! I have somewhat of a direct question. I just started using DoTerra essential oils to see if I can heal my thyroid. I don’t know if you have any knowledge of these oils but what do you think of these oils if they have all of the supplement facts and show how the oils are made. Are these under the Realm of supplements?

  14. Thanks for the interview! In general I thought it was good info. I wanted to comment that I found it odd in one section AJ said he didn’t have time to find the bad guys, and that people just brought it to his attention- and then he was off and running. Then towards the end he said, “I’ll find them. They can’t hide”. It came across a bit obnoxious and disingenuous. I’m sure he is doing great things, but maybe being a little humble wouldn’t hurt.

  15. Usually I enjoy all of your podcasts abel. I want to challenge Gary Collins on one thing. Never buy products from MLM’s? Sure there are a lot of bad MLM’s out there but in the days of the internet and information overload the bad ones get sniffed out pretty quickly. I would encourage Gary and yourself to do some research on Nutrilite. I have no agenda on this (although when someone says that they usually do). I would put their product against everything on the market. They invented the multi-vitamin. They use only organic materials that can be sourced to the farm and they actually pay all surrounding farms the cost necessary for them to remain organic and free of pesticides. This ensures that the product is what they say it is. Also, if MLM’s do have good products and they sell them in retail establishments it completely destroys their business model which is usually to give people the opportunity to make money distributing them. So it would make no sense to do that from a business perspective.

  16. Great podcast. I have a question. If I need a supplement withVitamin D, iron, Calcium, and Vitamin C. Do i have to buy many sepparate or what and where would you recomend.

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