The Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF) announced it has pledged additional grants, now totaling over $2.1 million, to the National Advertising Division (NAD), a service of the advertising industry and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), that will extend through 2017 the NAD self-regulatory program that monitors advertising for dietary supplements. The three-year extension demonstrates CRNF’s continued leadership to work toward a dietary supplement industry that is 100 percent compliant with truthful and accurate advertising. The program, first launched in 2006 and supported through a series of multiyear grants, serves as the trade association’s cornerstone of self-regulatory initiatives, and has been praised by the Federal Trade Commissioners and FTC staff as “an excellent example of self-regulation.”
CRNF President and CEO Steve Mister stated, “Self-regulation is the hallmark of a mature industry and our member companies proudly continue to support this self-regulatory initiative because we understand that truthful and accurate advertising levels the playing field for honest advertisers and ultimately serves the consumer.”
The active ad-monitoring and peer-to-peer process conducted by the NAD is effective. It encourages cooperation and allows companies a chance to voluntarily change non-compliant behavior before facing potentially serious consequences from the FTC and other law enforcement agencies. The program encourages fair competition and is unique in the dietary supplement industry because it involves a public and transparent process with accountability and demonstrated results. Each monitoring case or challenge results in a written decision explaining the review and, if changes are needed, providing advertisers with instruction and guidance for future advertising.
“The responsible dietary supplement industry recognizes the need to meet high standards of truthfulness and substantiation. The CRN Foundation is to be congratulated for its courage in stepping forward to financially support the transparent self-regulation of advertising claims made in dietary supplement advertising,” said C. Lee Peeler, president and CEO of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, and executive vice president, National Advertising Programs, CBBB.
The dietary supplement NAD program exceeded an important milestone this past June with completion of over 200 advertising challenges. The caseload has continued to grow throughout the course of the eight-year program as the initiative allowed NAD to hire an additional attorney focused solely on the dietary supplement category. According to NAD, companies comply with NAD’s recommendations at a rate of nearly 98 percent.
“We’re pleased to be able to continue our longstanding support of NAD’s dietary supplement advertising review program. It’s an important vehicle for CRN, its members, and other companies in the industry to play a key role in self-regulation, supporting a marketplace where consumers can be more confident in the truth and accuracy of advertising claims for dietary supplements,” said Mr. Mister. Further, he noted that responsible industry’s participation in the program is critical to its continued success. “We urge all industry stakeholders-not just CRN member companies-to remain involved and supportive of the program. If you see a supplement ad that’s misleading or untruthful, or that includes claims that can’t be substantiated, file a competitive challenge with the NAD.”
NAD reviews print, broadcast, infomercial and web-based advertising and opens cases prompted by complaints from competitors, consumers, and following its own monitoring.
More information on the NAD program, including information on how to file a competitive claim and a searchable compilation of cases to assist dietary supplement companies in avoiding misleading, non-substantiated or deceptive advertising claims is available on CRN’s website: crn.org/NAD.
The NAD program is one of several self-regulatory initiatives spearheaded by CRN, including: the recently launched FDA Warning Letter Database; Recommended Guidelines for Caffeine-Containing Dietary Supplements; Best Practices Guide for Enzyme Dietary Supplement Products; CRN Guidelines for Labeling of Protein in Dietary Supplements and Functional Foods; and more.
In addition, in August, CRN launched a resource for its members only, compiling all available FTC advertising enforcement actions related to dietary supplements and functional food since 2003. The compilation provides CRN members a one-stop location to review the kinds of claims that have prompted FTC investigations, consent degrees and redress orders and civil penalties so they can avoid the same in their own advertising.