Natural Foods Merchandiser

Look Behind the Label to Build Your Business

From "Behind The Label: A Guide For Retailers," A Supplement to Natural Foods Merchandiser

Editor's Note

Recent media coverage of the natural products industry has been, according to industry expert Loren Israelsen, "Negative in biblical proportions." It seems the phrase the unregulated dietary supplements industry appears in just about every news piece.

We've heard it in broadcasts about the safety of ephedra, and seen it in articles about misleading claims in supplements ads. But the dietary supplements industry is regulated, and has been since the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act took effect in 1994. That act created a new safety standard for supplements that differed from food or drugs, and it shifted the burden of proof for safety to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

With this inaugural issue of Behind the Label, the editors of The Natural Foods Merchandiser invite you to take a look at the regulations in place in the natural products industry. We'll look at DSHEA's Section 5 for information on third-party literature; Federal Trade Commission regulations for advertising claims; and organic standards for the produce department, the meat case and the egg display in your dairy department. We've also included glossaries to help you decode the meaning behind the proliferation of produce and meat eco-labels you're seeing.

This supplement to The Natural Foods Merchandiser will also look at the USDA National Organic Program, what it presently regulates (food) and what it doesn't (personal care). It will help you find information and get assistance, reiterate the importance of research, decipher the differences among natural sweeteners and solve any mysteries about green cleaning products.

In short, we hope Behind the Label helps you identify quality—in terms of both the science behind supplements and the impact of sustainability in organic products.

This issue can be used as a quick refresher for longtime retailers, or as a training tool for new hires. We know it will be useful until next year—when we plan to update Behind the Label. Please let me know if there are any issues you wish we'd cover.

—Marty Traynor Spencer, Editor
[email protected]

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