Industry members have formed the Natural Products Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization with a goal to help the dietary supplements industry police its own.
Critics of the dietary supplements business in the media and the government have questioned the industry?s integrity and commitment to product safety. The NPF hopes to address consumer confusion and media misinformation by convincing industry members to comply with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
?As an industry, we are suffering greatly at the hands of our critics who have mischaracterized our industry because of the very visible actions of a few bad apples,? said James Roza, chairman of the NPF executive committee, and director of external affairs of NOW Foods. ?The inability of regulators, legislators, media and the general public to differentiate between reputable GMP-certified companies and the outliers may well lead to regulations that are unnecessary and inappropriate given that supplements are one of the safest consumer product categories existing today. It is imperative that our industry behave responsibly, encourage business practices that show integrity and work toward more responsible self-governance.?
An NPF statement said those who violate DSHEA and other legal regulations are ?a threat to the long-term viability and reputation of the dietary supplement industry and must be brought into compliance using whatever means is available to NPF.?
Issues the NPF will address include product safety and efficacy, label accuracy, education and advertising compliance. ?The Natural Products Foundation will ? set industry standards that work in the spirit of DSHEA and champion the quality that is truly representative of our industry,? Roza said. ?Through the programs that it will establish, NPF will regain the confidence of consumers and restore the integrity of our industry.?
The first phase of the NPF program is to self-police advertising so that it meets with DSHEA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission regulations.
?The goal of the NPF is to first look for low-hanging fruit—the people who make egregious claims,? said Don McLemore, a member of the steering committee and vice president of standards for New Hope Natural Media, The Natural Foods Merchandiser?s parent company. He added that the NPF would like to get the FDA and FTC involved in providing workshops for industry members so they are capable of self-regulating.
?If we want our industry to thrive, we have to support quality and integrity,? McLemore said. NPF?s executive committee currently has five members: Chairman Jim Roza; Randy Denin, industry consultant, Capsugel; Robert Kay, vice president of science and technology, Natural Alternatives International; David Seckman, executive director and chief executive officer, NNFA; and Brent Weickert, deputy executive director and chief operating officer, NNFA.
The steering committee currently consists of the executive committee plus the following members: Jon Benninger, group publisher, Virgo Publishing; Derek Hall, president/CEO, Unigen Pharmaceuticals; David Heilman, vice president/finance, GNC Corp.; Skye Lininger, president/CEO, Healthnotes; Don McLemore; Suzanne Shelton, president, Shelton Group PR; Tom Shepherd, president, Bastyr University; Loretta Zapp, president/CEO, Oncology Sciences.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 9