EAS Inc. has become the first nutritional supplement manufacturer to earn certification that its products do not contain any substances banned by the National Football League. The NFL maintains a list of more than 65 banned steroids, stimulants, masking agents and other substances. In the past, athletes have been suspended for using nutritional supplements that contained banned substances.
Under a program created in February (see "New Certification on the Way for Athletes, Consumers," NFM, April 2004), manufacturers of nutritional supplements can apply to the NFL Players' Association for vetting of its manufacturing practices and product formulation. After a company passes the NFLPA screening, NSF International, an independent third-party certifier, conducts the audit and testing. Once certification is granted, a logo on the product label helps athletes identify products that are in compliance with league regulations.
The eight certified EAS products include Myoplex Sport meal replacement bars and powders, ready-to-drink Myoplex Original and Precision Protein. "We think the eight provide a nice complement of products for players to be using to maximize their health and fitness," said Steve Breen, senior vice president for marketing at EAS. Over time, the company will seek to certify other products, he said.
Breen said the process of setting up the program and getting its products certified took about two years. The actual auditing and testing took about three months, said Kathleen Pompliano, manager of NSF's dietary supplements and functional foods program.
The company views the certification as an important step in an increasingly competitive market. "This is kind of big stakes stuff. Once you're certified the NFL is saying, 'This is a company you can trust,'" Breen said.
While the certification assures NFL players that the product in question is absolutely free of banned substances, athletes in amateur leagues may also view the certification as a seal of approval. "Aspiring athletes look to the NFL for what is acceptable," Breen said.
Even amid rumors that EAS is up for sale, the company hopes to distinguish itself from flash-in-the-pan manufacturers of nutritional supplements. "We have been a long-term player in the industry and certainly expect to continue to be," Breen said, no matter who owns the company.
Kathleen Pompliano, manager of NSF's dietary supplements and functional foods programs, said that while a number of companies have applied to the NFLPA, only one other company so far has submitted products to NSF for testing. She would not release the name, citing NSF confidentiality policies.