U.S. Supplement Industry Forms Educational Alliance

A major new alliance of organisations from the US dietary supplement industry has been launched. The Dietary Supplements Education Alliance (DSEA), made up of supplement retailers, manufacturers, trade organisations, health publishers and educational associations claims that it will be working to "put the 'E' back into the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)".

DSHEA came into force in 1994. It provided US consumers with greater access to dietary supplements and encouraged manufacturers and retailers to provide full information about responsible use of the products. But the act has not been as successful in educating the public as the industry might have hoped, said DSEA chairman Elliott Balbert. "Seven years after DSHEA, there is a pervasive information gap about the health benefits of dietary supplements," he claimed. "Only by joining forces and leveraging the expertise and experience of a wide range of companies and organizations will the industry begin the process of providing consumers, health professionals and policy makers with the latest science-based information about the health benefits and effectiveness of our products."

DSEA is planning a multi-year campaign, to include such measures as the creation of a dietary supplement information bureau, with independent scientific advisors from the fields of pharmacology, complementary medicine and nutrition; and the creation and launch of a new web site, which will offer promotional information on supplement use to both consumers and the media, as well as nutritionists and health professionals.

A proactive public relations campaign will be at the forefront of DSEA's work, with the Information Bureau working to bring positive research findings to the media's attention. Monthly features and columns on health issues will be offered free of charge to newspapers, and a 'Barometer Survey' is planned on the consumer use of, and support for, supplements. A Dietary Supplements Fact File will be created to serve as the basis of media campaigns.

The organization's steering committee is made up of five major US organisations in the natural health field: the Corporate Alliance for Integrative Medicine, the National Nutritional Foods Association, the American Herbal Products Association, Virgo Publishing and New Hope Natural Media. Many other companies working in the dietary supplements field have already pledged support, including such prominent manufacturers as Weider Nutrition and Twinlab Corporation.

David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the National Nutritional Foods Association, said the collective expertise of the organisations involved would be a significant benefit to the campaign. "Through the Dietary Supplement Educational Alliance, the industry has the focus and commitment to make a difference," he claimed.

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