Industry must embrace change, says CRN CEO

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement industry, Dietary supplement, Food and drug administration, Fda, Crn

The US dietary supplements industry should make itself the master of change not its victim, according to Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

Speaking at the CRN’s Annual Symposium at Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Mister identified some of the challenges facing the US dietary supplement industry. Topping the list were self-generated problems, and legislative changes.

Fifteen years ago, our biggest threat was an over-reaching FDA​,” said Mister. “More recently, the problem has been an FDA that’s under funded and lacks the political will to do what it needs to do. And as a result today, many of the problems that burden the dietary supplement industry are ones that come from within the industry itself from that lack of oversight​.”

Prescription drugs

Some companies which market dietary supplements do not share CRN members’ commitment to consumers, understanding of how nutrition works, or dedication to the long-term industry growth. “Companies… intentionally – or inadvertently – put prescription drugs or anabolic steroids into their products and call them dietary supplements; products that just don’t do what they claim.” Also some companies practice economically motivated adulteration, passing off shoddy products as something more than they are … and ignore the new GMP requirements in hopes that they will fall under the radar screen.”

So it’s unsurprising that FDA, the consumer media, and even Congress should be focusing critically on the dietary supplement industry and considering legislative changes, he said.

But Mister believed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) remains the appropriate regulatory framework for dietary supplements.

To help make the existing legislation work, CRN should “…expand our efforts to develop, support and encourage responsible, consumer-focused behavior within the industry. We have several projects that you know are already in place. ​“

The council had also agreed recently to continue the its program with the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureaus for another five years, until 2014, he said.

CRN member companies could help the industry’s future by supporting the Standardized Information for Dietary Ingredients program. “It’s another example of responsible behavior at work. This initiative has the potential to identify ingredient suppliers whose products aren’t measuring up​.”

Dietary supplements

Mister also pledged CRN support for food safety efforts in the Senate. The plans put additional regulation on foods, including dietary supplements: Annual registrations, mandatory recall authority for FDA, and a requirement that firms develop food safety programs for their manufacturing processes, he acknowledged. “But, if we’re going to be perceived as credible and helping our consumers assure a safe product, this is a necessary step​.” he said.

CRN is ready for the challenges that tomorrow holds and determined to make the best of them, he concluded. “We’re poised to help our members be their best because when we join together to form a single voice, we are all stronger. When companies do that, the industry rises.”

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