The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the National Nutritional Foods Association of Japan (NNFA-J) yesterday agreed to work together to better deal with regulatory and research issues. With the cost of manufacture, research and ensuring regulatory approval increasing for manufacturers, the cooperation will target greater efficiency in dealing with issues like health claims, food safety, and producing ingredients and supplements. CRN president Steve Mister told NutraIngredients-USA.com that despite some regulatory differences in their respective markets, the US and Japanese nutrition industries had many similarities. "Like the US, Japan is a highly developed and mature market for healthcare products, much more so than any other Asian country," he stated. "As such, many of their concerns reflect our own, particularly in terms of ensuring quality and innovation." The appliance of science The CRN said that research was a therefore a key priority for the partnership, as pressure grows for strong scientific backing on the use of health claims. "There is a lot of interest amongst Japanese legislators to ensure that regulation in the country is increasingly science-based," Mister said. However, the organization added that the cooperation would not be just a one-way agreement, claiming that many mutual benefits are expected for both countries from the deal. "Emerging research is increasingly supporting the safety and benefits of supplements for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases," he stated. "Regulatory approaches in both countries should likewise reflect good science to help consumers make healthy decisions." Mister added that the intiative will also work to overcome some hurdles for nutrition groups in the Japanese market, notably for foreign companies that had or were looking to enter the country. Implementation Officials from both the CRN and NPA intend to travel to Japan over the summer to meet with officials from NNFA-J to establish a working group to outline key goals and targets for the cooperation. Japanese representatives are then expected to visit Washington DC later in the year to follow up on their previous meeting.