The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC), in cooperation with the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry—the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)—held its first briefing for the 112th Congress on April 6. A capacity crowd of 60 House and Senate staffers attended this event.
The luncheon briefing featured Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council. "I'm truly grateful and honored for this invitation to talk about how safe and beneficial dietary supplements support the health of our citizens and save our nation billions in health care costs each year," said Blumenthal. "The excellent turnout among Congressional staffers demonstrates the increasing interest in and importance of dietary supplements on Capitol Hill."
Among the key points of Blumenthal's presentation:
- Half of all Americans use dietary supplements, according to the Journal of Nutrition.
- Dietary supplements are regulated as foods under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).
The industry has a strong record of self-regulation, including:
- AHPA's establishment of standards for nomenclature and guidelines for safety
- CRN's multi-year grants to the Council of Better Business Bureaus' National Advertising Division to help ensure truthfulness in supplement advertising
- NPA's good manufacturing practice (cGMP) program and training seminars
- UNPA's cGMP training initiative, some co-led with the University of Mississippi
- Dietary supplements have an outstanding safety record, with government statistics showing they are one of the safest categories of consumer products.
Additional briefings will be scheduled on Capitol Hill. This was the first briefing for the 112th Congress and the ninth in a series of briefings since the DSC launched in 2005.
The DSC was recently re-launched for the 112th Congress. The caucus serves as a bipartisan, bicameral group of members to facilitate discussions among lawmakers about the benefits of dietary supplements, provide tips and insights for better health and wellness, and promote research into the health care savings provided by dietary supplements.
In addition, the caucus brings Congressional attention to the role of supplements in health promotion and disease prevention, and addresses the regulation of the supplement industry. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., serve as co-chairs of the caucus.
About the American Herbal Products Association
The American Herbal Products Association is the national trade association for the voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs, botanicals and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. ahpa.org.