Lack of funding blocks creation of independent testing body

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement

The biggest obstacle holding dietary supplement companies back from
creating an independent testing body is funding, according to
industry trade associations.

Both Daniel Fabricant, Natural Products Association (NPA) VP of scientific affairs, and Andrew Shao, the Council for Responsible Nutrition's vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, weighed in on the issue of independent testing bodies at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim. "It's going to take funding, that's really the problem,"​ Fabricant told NutraIngredients-USA. "But there's no better way to test consumer confidence - I mean, you're standing behind your product." ​ The issue has been raised time and again by industry advocates who say the current system for testing products independently depends inordinately on ConsumerLab.com, which has been accused of arbitrarily testing products and not disclosing methods. In addition, ConsumerLab.com's test results have frequently gotten significant play in mainstream media, which industry says has unjustly affected its credibility in the eyes of consumers. Shao opinioned that while an independent testing body is perhaps an ideal concept, expanding current certification programs may be more viable. "The problem is there are a lot of companies that have the 'don't ask don't tell policy',"​ Shao told NutraIngredients-USA. "So there are companies that wouldn't want this." ​ And this is precisely why some industry members have voiced the need for an independent testing body - to weed the companies that have strong science behind their products, from those that do not. "We're moving in the direction of certification,"​ said Shao. "That's good at a minimum."​ Groups such US Pharmacopeia and NSF International offer independent testing programs, but they are not yet seen as paying off financially for dietary supplement manufacturers because they do not necessarily result in increased sales. "What would drive certification is if there were consumer demand for these products,"​ said Shao. However, he added that consumer outreach is unrealistically expensive for these organizations. If companies used these certifications, it could be a way to shield them from ConsumerLab.com's testing. "My guess is ConsumerLab would stay away from these products,"​ said Shao. NPA has a small product testing program, TruLabel, but indicated it is not looking to expand this into a certification program. If you would like to comment on the issue of creating an independent testing body for the dietary supplement industry in the U.S., please email: clarisse.douaud "at" decisionnews.com

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