WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 22, 2005) – The National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) will reach an important milestone in 2006 as the association celebrates its 70th anniversary. Founded in 1936, NNFA has established itself as the longest-running non-profit organization dedicated to serving and preserving the rights of natural products industry retailers and suppliers.
“It is an absolute pleasure to be at the helm of NNFA at this exciting time. We have come a long way in 70 years and we are stronger than ever,” said David Taylor, NNFA’s president. “Social changes, economic periods of hardship and prosperity, technological progress, and changing leadership in our federal government have contributed to the evolution of the natural products industry, but it is the constant dedication of our members that we will really be celebrating in the coming year.”
With more than 8,000 members, the association has much to be proud of. Throughout its seven decades of operation, NNFA has worked tirelessly to promote and protect its members, their businesses, and their important role in the health of Americans. Following are some of the major landmarks from its history:
· 1936: a small group of suppliers of natural food ingredients form an organization to better inform consumers about the benefits of natural nutrition and the natural products industry. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., the group is called the American Health Foods Association (AHFA).
· 1937: AHFA holds its first convention at the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago, which draws roughly 150 participants. The association makes the transition from a consumer group to become the Natural Health Foods Association (NHFA) representing all factions of the health foods business, including retailers, manufacturers and distributors. NHFA continues to hold an annual convention, but quickly broadens its focus to combat congressional legislation aimed at the dietary supplement industry.
· 1938: Congress passes the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which for the first time acknowledged vitamin, mineral and other dietary properties of foods. The bill provides FDA with the ability to use drug provisions of the law to attempt to reclassify dietary supplements as drugs based on label claims. NHFA members band together and successfully counter FDA’s efforts to remove dietary supplements from the market.
· 1943: NHFA changes it name to the National Dietary Foods Association (NDFA).
· 1970: NDFA becomes the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). As Congress continues to introduce new legislation impacting the dietary supplement industry, NNFA sustains its efforts to fight for the rights of the industry and consumers.
· 1976: After years of debate, Congress passes the Proxmire bill prohibiting the FDA from regulating vitamins and minerals as prescription drugs. NNFA mobilized strong industry and consumer support to ensure the bill was passed.
· 1994: The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) is passed, creating a new framework for regulation of dietary supplements by FDA. NNFA had worked diligently with other industry stakeholders and champions of natural products within Congress to enact DSHEA into law.
· 1998: The U.S. Department of Agriculture releases a proposed national organic rule. NNFA joins forces with other industry groups to oppose the many aspects of the rule, citing ”the big three” - irradiation, genetic modification, and sewage sludge - as unacceptable in organic production. As a result of industry and grassroots activism, the rule is extensively re-written to exclude these and other contentious items.
· 2003: NNFA significantly expands advocacy efforts: In March, the association launches an online Advocacy Action Center, enabling members and others to contact their lawmakers on various issues impacting the industry. To date, the Center has generated hundreds of thousands of messages to Members of Congress. In May of 2003, NNFA opens an office in Washington, D.C.
· 2004: NNFA membership reaches record numbers, at more than 8,000 suppliers and retail stores. NNFA attributes the 35 percent increase in retail members to an aggressive dues restructuring launched in 2003 and increased recognition for advocacy efforts.
· 2005: NNFA holds its most successful annual lobbying event, known as Natural Foods Day. A record-breaking 160+ industry stakeholders from 37 states educated lawmakers about legislation affecting the natural products industry.
NNFA will utilize its various communication vehicles and host special events at NNFA 2006, the annual trade show and convention, July 14 – 16 in Las Vegas, Nev., to commemorate the special anniversary and share with its members stories of the many people and efforts that have contributed to making NNFA the success it is today. In doing so, NNFA hopes to honor long-time members by revisiting accomplishments from our past and educating and inspiring new members to set the association’s path towards the future. Look for anniversary-related articles in NNFA Today, and The Supplement, NNFA’s biweekly electronic newsletter, in addition to entertaining, new information on the Web site and at various events throughout 2006.
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