I’m perhaps one of the more reactionary people on the planet. Just last night our tiny town along South Boulder Creek outside Boulder, Colorado, had an emergency evacuation. As soon as the sirens roared and the warning—“Flash flooding imminent. Leave immediately”—was announced, I grabbed my sleeping baby. I had the car loaded and started about a minute later.
Meanwhile, my husband sauntered outside, assessed the creek levels, looked at the sky (to weigh the thunderstorm potential) and talked to a few neighbors before strolling back to the house. By that point, I was in a panic. “We have to go!” He calmly said, “Our house is not in the 100-year flood plain, you know.” I convinced him to evacuate anyway—for the baby’s sake if for nothing else. Soon thereafter we learned that the man in charge simply pressed the wrong emergency button.
The man in charge reacted, which led to my reaction.
The result? Overreaction.
Since writing a story that urged retailers to get involved in the process that will shape the FDA’s New Dietary Ingredient guidance, I have been asked how exactly retailers should respond. My initial answer: Tell the FDA that the document goes beyond the original aim of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Tell the feds that the intent was to notify the FDA of new ingredients, not hurt small businesses and threaten access to supplements, which have a great safety record.
My husband’s likely answer: Take some time to read the document, to digest its points, to discuss its potential impact with colleagues, customers, friends. Then, decide how to respond.
As much as I loathe to admit it, my husband is right. Why? The thing is the FDA allows comments until early October. Why risk setting off a false alarm, putting everyone into a panic too soon? Yes, we all need to get involved now. The first step: Get informed. The second: Think and discuss. The third: React. After all, only a thoughtful response will preserve the natural products industry for the future.