The dietary supplement industry has been identified as an essential business during the coronavirus crisis, making its workers exempt from stay-at-home and other directives, but that designation puts considerable responsibilities on manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
To help companies throughout the industry with COVID-19 concerns, the American Herbal Products Association's website features information from trade associations; federal agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the federal Department of Labor; worldwide organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization; and more.
Michael McGuffin, president of AHPA, wrote on March 17 that, although staff members are working from home, they are still availble to support the industry.
"We are also working actively with other trade organization representing the natural products and broader food industries to further our access to additional resources and serve our members during these challenging times," he wrote. "We are all in this together, and AHPA's long commitment to cooperation and collaboration with our association colleagues is especially important at this time."
The AHPA, a nationwide trade association for the herbal products industry, advocates for the industry, communicates about industry-related issues, promotes the benefits of herbal products through the media, and educates the industry via in-person and online events.
A federal agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security issued on March 28 an advisory update to the list of essential workforce categories. However, state and local governments are free to adjust this list by adding or subtracting industries that are essential in their areas of jurisdiction.
In addition, business owners can use their own judgment on making sure their goods and services are provided safely. "All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions," the letter says. The entire letter and the list of essential industries is available through AHPA's news page, which also offers links to the CDC, the FDA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration websites.
The AHPA produced a webinar on March 26 to provides its members and the herbal community with the most recent COVID-19 information. Topics discussed included herb companies as essential businesses, safety planning, temporary FDA revisions and more. The webinar is free to all.
The association also provides news updates that can be accessed online or via email. Current topics on the updates page include international supplement regulations, the Sports Nutrition Congress scheduled for August and the board of trustees election results.