You may know the latest supplements legislation or what claims a manufacturer can make, but Congress may not, according to Patrick Rea, the publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal, based in Boulder, Colo. Rea along with members of the Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition, both based in Washington, D.C., met with members of Congress yesterday to “debunk the myths” surrounding the industry and explain how informed legislators can help.
The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus was held in Washington, D.C., as a way to inform congressmen and congresswomen and members of staff about the supplements industry through facts and figures pertinent to the issues, Rea said.
“I thought [my presentation] was pretty well received,” Rea said. “The honest truth is that these people that work in Washington are responsible for covering every issue out there. They need to rely on the [supplements] industry and people like myself to update them on this huge part of the economy.”
The most common questions and concerns from the audience were “really basic,” Rea said. Manufacturer claims, the size of the industry and myths about the people behind the industry were all addressed by Rea in his speech.
“It shows that since the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act was passed in 1994 there has been a lot of turnover in Congress,” Rea said. “We have a constant challenge to educate and bring people up to speed on what the $26 billion [supplements] industry is offering.”
The NPA, CRN and Rea urge retailers to get involved in educating their legislators so that their supplement sales are not affected by an amendment insertion “passed at 4 in the morning,” which Rea said is a real risk to the industry.
“Retailers need to be careful not to get whipped up into a frenzy by some of the advocacy groups out there,” Rea said. “They need to look to the established trade associations who are methodically working in Washington with legislators as opposed to [those] using scare tactics. It’s better for the industry to be organized and support trade associations like the NPA.”