Washington, D.C.—NSF International and the US Pharmacopeia (USP) are battling it out for organisation-of-choice status for the supplements label stamp-of-approval that will be seen on product labels this year.
USP, founded in 1820, has been the established certifier since it was named in the 1994 Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA) as the national compendium for supplements standards, but NSF has rallied strategic industry support to expedite the process for a reliable mark of quality on product labels.
NSF, founded in 1944, recently formed an alliance with the US supplements trade group National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), and has also acquired testing methods validators Institute for Nutraceutical Advancement (INA). USP, meanwhile, announced its new dietary supplements verification program starting in November 2001.
The two organisations are endeavouring to build consumer confidence following accusations of discrepancies between listed ingredient quantities and those present in certain products. At least two other independent products testing organisations, consumerlab.com and the Good House-keeping Institute, currently offer varying methodologies toward attaining a seal-of-approval for dietary supplements.
Meanwhile, supplements manufacturers and marketers are evaluating the certification programs for their strengths, costs and market value before deciding which stamp-of-approval process to pursue.
"I'm in favour of all of these programs," says Loren Israelsen, director of the Utah Natural Products Alliance, which represents manufacturers. "These are highly regarded organisations who are taking an interest in our industry, adding value and helping consumers understand what quality means."