Down by law
Old-school bodybuilder fought the FDA and the FDA won
Published: February 23, 2011
Kosloff says he heard that a woman found his formula on a local health food store's shelf, fed it to her baby, and was so impressed by the results that she went to her doctor and cheerfully told him all about this new product, adding that she wasn't coming back for the doctor's own treatments for the baby's digestive problems. The doctor called the FDA. And the agency brought the hammer down.
In early 2004, a warning letter became a phone call that became a knock on the door, and Kosloff soon found himself pouring out can after can of his formula under their watchful gaze. He lost a fortune.
"It was devastating," Kosloff says, his eyes welling with tears. He would've retired by now, he says, if it weren't for the financial hit he took.
The agency never said his formula was harmful, only that he didn't notify them about his new product, and that he mislabeled it as food rather than merely a dietary supplement.
Patricia El-Hinnawy, FDA public affairs officer, acknowledged the agency's actions against Kosloff but would only note that, in general, "FDA can recall infant formula if it determines that the product is adulterated or misbranded and therefore presents a risk to human health."
So Kosloff fell back to selling his liver pills and enzymes, taking phone calls from faraway gyms, counseling people on what they eat, keeping a low profile.
But it's just not the same. He sits in his chair with a slump of defeat, his voice a sleepy whisper, his face that of a man looking over his shoulder.
"These aren't good times," he says. "I'm just carrying on. See, you don't fight big corporations. I realized what power was." He's convinced the FDA will come after him if he talks about this. Still, he talks anyway.
He has a picture of himself standing arm-in-arm with his idol on a cloudy day long ago. It shows two men tied through the years by their shared beliefs, the feeling of being alone in their truth, and the sense that you just can't fight the power.
"I'm just another Vince Gironda," Kosloff says. "You tell the truth, and they'll get you. The truth in America doesn't fly. Everything is just bullshit. It's sad."
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