Natural Foods Merchandiser

What retailers can and can't say about supplements

Michael Murray, ND, author of more than 30 books and supplement developer discusses the role natural products retailers play in ensuring supplement quality. 

A dynamic authority on natural medicine, Michael Murray, ND, has published more than 30 books, developed a line of supplements and works as the director of product development for Natural Factors, a U.S.- and Canadian-based supplements manufacturer.

In June, Murray received the Natural Products Association President’s Award, which recognizes outstanding contributors to the natural products industry. We spoke with him about his latest book, the role natural products retailers play in ensuring supplement quality and what retailers should (and shouldn’t) promise shoppers.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: What’s one key point you hope retailers will take away from your book, What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know (Atria, 2009)?

Michael Murray: Natural products retailers should know just how important they are to real health care in North America. Without a strong network of retailers, even more Americans would rely on potentially dangerous drugs to address health conditions that primarily stem from diet, lifestyle and attitude. Drugs are just biochemical bandages that often don’t address the underlying causes of disease and are associated with side effects and actual worsening of afflictions.

NFM: What steps should retailers take to ensure supplement quality?

MM: Every dietary supplement manufacturer proclaims that it uses strict quality-control measures, yet we know this is hardly the case. I recommend that retailers visit key manufacturers’ facilities. Many offer retailer trainings to show off what they do. Once retailers visit a few companies, it becomes easier to gauge which are doing the necessary work and which are giving lip service to quality.

NFM: What should retailers consider before suggesting a supplement to customers?

MM: I think the biggest thing is to assess a customer’s realistic expectations of a product. There are so many phenomenal supplements in our industry, but for people to get the results they seek, they have to use the right product at the right dosage. Retailers can’t prescribe supplements, but they can point shoppers in the right direction.
NFM: You just received the NPA President’s Award. How will you continue to contribute to the industry?

MM: I want to encourage even more consumers to visit their local health food stores and use them as information resources as well as places to shop. I definitely want to continue to be a champion for the industry and really make a difference by promoting the safe and effective use of natural products. And, of course, I very much look forward to continuing my legacy of introducing revolutionary new products.

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