A product registry that supporters believe could transform the supplement industry and usher in a new era of easily accessible information has gone into beta testing, the Council for Responsible Nutrition announced Monday.
Nine companies are participating in beta testing, and the council intends to open the registry to more companies after the CRN Conference in late October. The registry was proposed at last year’s conference, and board members directed staff to explore technology options. The board gave the go-ahead in March to create the registry, and CRN later selected Underwriters Laboratory to build the interface (UL had earlier been working with the Natural Product Association on a registry aimed at retailers). As it is described in the announcement, the Supplement Online Wellness Library will have two “tiers” of information.
Tier one will be available to any company that provides the product and additional required information that include ingredients. Elements of this tier will be available to the public at no charge, but manufacturing and packaging contact details will be restricted to the FDA. Every product registered will be assigned a “unique product identifier.”
The second tier will allow companies to add more detailed information, including third-party certifications and ingredient specifications. A “nominal fee” will be charged for inclusion in tier two, with access granted to regulators and retailers, as specified by the companies.
The registry has been hailed as a “transformative” for the industry. From the beginning, CRN has specified regulators as a primary audience, but supporters of the project hope the registry will help boost public confidence in supplements. Companies could decide to indicate on the label whether their product is registered, a gesture that suggests transparency.
However, the registry does not include a rating for quality. One industry insider has complained that the registry lacks “teeth.” Any company can register any product.
The nine companies participating in the beta stage are FoodState, Garden of Life,Glanbia Performance Nutrition, Herbalife, NBTY, Pharmavite, GNC, Herbs Etc. and one additional unnamed company. CRN anticipates other companies could begin registering their products “as early as Nov. 1” and all CRN member companies will be required to register all products as a membership requirement.
Foodstate Director of Regulatory Affairs Bethany Davis says her company was eager to get involved early to ensure that the system would be practical for small companies. Davis says the registry fits well with Foodstate and Megafood’s transparency mission but there are still issues that need to be worked out. “I think there are a lot of ways we can simplify it if we work with somebody who has a lot of tech expertise like UL,” Davis said.