The Natural Products Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that plans to help the dietary supplements industry police its own, has been formed by industry members concerned about media and government attacks.
Critics of dietary supplements have questioned the industry's integrity and commitment to product safety.
"As an industry, we are suffering greatly at the hands of our critics who have mischaracterized our industry because of the very visible actions of a few bad apples," said James Roza, chairman of the NPF executive committee and director of external affairs, NOW Foods. "The inability of regulators, legislators, media and the general public to differentiate between reputable GMP-certified companies and the outliers may well lead to regulations that are unnecessary and inappropriate given that supplements are one of the safest consumer product categories existing today. It is imperative that industry take control and work toward more responsible self-governance."
The NPF wants industry members to comply with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. An NPF statement said the organization believes that those who violate DSHEA and other legal regulations are "a threat to the long-term viability and reputation of the dietary supplement industry, and must be brought into compliance using whatever means is available to NPF."
Issues the NPF will address include product safety and efficacy, label accuracy, education and advertising compliance.
The first phase of the NPF program is to monitor advertising so that it meets with DSHEA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission regulations.
Several members of the NPF executive and steering committees met with industry publishers at the National Nutritional Foods Association 2004 trade show in Las Vegas last week. NPF has asked the publishers to make a commitment to avoid running ads that make unapproved drug claims. The group also formed a task force to review advertorial—copy written with the sole intent of advertising a product—for problems with FTC regulations.
"The goal of the NPF is to first look for low-hanging fruit—the people who make egregious claims," said Don McLemore, a member of the steering committee and vice president of standards for New Hope Natural Media, Natural Foods Merchandiser's parent company. "If we want our industry to thrive, we have to support quality and integrity."
For more information on the foundation see the August issue of The Natural Foods Merchandiser.