Last week the New Hope Natural Media Standards Department became the first media company selected to receive an award from the Office of Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"It's an honor," said Don McLemore, vice president of standards. "There are a number of recipients, and every one of them is from within the FDA. We're the only ones outside the FDA and we're the only media company to receive this award."
The New Hope standards team is receiving the Civilian Honor Award under the category of Leveraging/Collaboration, which is granted to an organization that shows outstanding collaborative efforts to support self-regulation of the foods, cosmetics and over-the-counter pharmaceutical industries, as well as promoting product quality and information accuracy. McLemore will accept the award at the FDA ORA Honor Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 25.
New Hope Media, based in Boulder, Colo., publishes Delicious Living, Functional Ingredients, Natural Foods Merchandiser, and Nutritional Business Journal. It also hosts a number of trade shows, most notable among them are the Natural Products Expo East and Natural Products Expo West.
The company's Standards Department reviews all advertisements placed in its print publications and Web products and oversees all manufacturer materials and claims at the tradeshows. The three-person team, made up of McLemore and directors Steve Taormina and Michelle Kelly, controls the quality of products in the areas of product safety, ingredients, claims, labeling, literature and show floor activities.
New Hope's standards program was developed in 1994 to ensure compliance of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Companies must comply with federal law in making health claims about products under the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The standards team looks for false or exaggerated claims by companies wanting to advertise in the publications, or participate in trade exhibitions. The line between making a claim to promote better health or beauty and being able to back it up with truth and science is often a thin line.
Most companies that fall outside compliance usually work with the standards team, take direction and make the necessary changes to continue to do business with New Hope. But there have been cases in which companies have walked away and ended up being fined by federal authorities, McLemore said.
In most cases, it's new companies, or first-time exhibitors, who are bringing a new product to market and don't understand the federal regulations surrounding their products. Unusual products also tend to feature marketing that falls outside of federal guidelines, McLemore said.
"We're the only department that has refused revenue, but at least our own back yard is clean," he said. "The standards program succeeds through the spirit of cooperation among industry manufacturers, distributors, brokers and retailers. This contributes to the responsible growth of the natural products industry and increases consumer confidence."