Retailers, please help protect DSHEA

Retailers, please help protect DSHEA

Do you or any of your store employees ever:

  • Tell a customer how a supplement helped someone you know overcome an illness?
  • Offer an opinion of a prescription drug or possible drug/supplement interactions?
  • Tell a customer that a certain supplement will aleviate symptoms?
  • Post any of the above on your website?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, than you’ve broken the law and your store could be liable.

 Most retailers know that under the Dietary Health and Education Act supplements are regulated like food by the Food and Drug Administration. The Federal Trade Commission regulates the marketing and advertising of supplements. So, there are a lot of rules governing what store employees can say, what 3rdparty literature can be displayed and even what signage you can display in your store.  

Whether or not you agree with these rules, the bottom line is that the FDA and FTC can come down whenever they want on retailers straying from DSHEA guidelines.

Beyond risk to your store, instances of retailer noncompliance are ammunition for parties interested in more stringent supplements regulation and could impact consumers’ right to buy and sell supplements without prescription

As a member of this industry and a consumer, I don’t want to see this happen.  Sure, I think many of these rules border on ridiculous, especially given the health threat that pharmaceuticals pose, but I don’t want my access to supplements taken away.

To this end, I want to share a tool that the Council for Responsible Nutrition has created for natural products retailers. It’s a brochure, Roadmap for Retailers: Safely Navigating what you say about Dietary Supplements. I know, “brochure” doesn’t exactly ring with “can’t live without it”, but trust me, your store will benefit from the Roadmap.

What I like about the Roadmap is that in six pages the reader gains an understanding of supplement laws, retailer responsibilities and how to talk to customers---essentially what’s OK and what’s not under DSHEA. It’s a great refresher for the savvy retailer and intro course for new employees.

If by simply watching their language, signage, etc., regarding supplements, retailers can help keep supplements legal, I say, please do it.

To access Roadmap for Retailers or access the files to print the PDF-brochure at cost, visit

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