Vitamin Shoppe's move to put all labels into public database increases transparency, CRN chief says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Vitamin Shoppe's move to put all labels into public database increases transparency, CRN chief says

Related tags Dietary supplement

The Vitamin Shoppe announced this week that it plans to have all  of the labels on products sold in its stores to be submitted to the National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Label Database. The move was welcomed by Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council of Responsible Nutrition, who said it is one of the things that helps separate responsible dietary supplement retailers from those with a lower level of commitment.

“I think any time a company is doing something that is making their processes and ingredients more transparent to the consumer and making it easier for consumers to negotiate the industry, that is a good thing,”​ Mister told NutraIngredients-USA.

Increased transparency

The Vitamin Shoppe said it expects all of its dietary supplement vendors to submit their product labels to the DSLD by the end of 2015 and will request certification by the vendor that the label has been submitted to the DSLD.

"Consumers desire and value product transparency, and the Vitamin Shoppe is leading the initiative to provide consumers with the information they want,"​ said Tony Truesdale, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe.

When first made public about a year ago, the database, which can accessed here​, had the information from the labels of about 17,000 dietary supplements and now contains data on about 30,000 products, with about 1,000 products added each month. The database is a collaborative project of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and National Library of Medicine (NLM) at NIH, with input from many federal stakeholders.  It is searchable and can be customized.

"This database will be of great value to many diverse groups of people, including nutrition researchers, healthcare providers, consumers, and others,"​ said Paul M. Coates, PhD, director of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) said at the time of the unveiling. “For example, research scientists might use the Dietary Supplement Label Database to determine total nutrient intakes from food and supplements in populations they study."

Dietary supplements are taken regularly by about half of U.S. adults, the NIH notes.  This rate of usage can add significant amounts of nutrients and other ingredients to the diet, including vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and more. Supplements feature a variety of delivery forms, such as tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as liquids and energy bars. The database will help nutrition researchers quantify these inputs, the NIH said.

Supplement facts panel information

By law, any product labeled as a dietary supplement must carry a Supplement Facts panel that list its contents and other added ingredients (such as fillers, binders, and flavorings). The Dietary Supplement Label Database includes this information and much more—such as directions for use, health-related claims, and any cautions—from the label.

The Dietary Supplement Label Database offers these features:

 • Quick Search: Search for any ingredient or specific text on a label.

 • Search for Dietary Ingredients: An alphabetical list of ingredients is also provided.

 • Search for Specific Products: An alphabetical list of products is also provided.

 • Browse Contact Information: Search by supplement manufacturer or distributor.

 • Advanced Search: Provides options for expanding a search by using a combination of search options including dietary ingredient, product/brand name, health-related claims, and label statements.

Differentiating factor

There is much hand-wringing in the dietary supplement industry about how to separate the good players from the bad. Providing as much transparency as possible, such as cooperating in the labeling initiative, is one way responsible companies can step forward, Mister said.  (Full disclosure: The Vitamin Shoppe is a CRN member).

“One of the things that is important for industry to do is to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. There are a lot of initiatives that companies can do to demonstrate that they are one of the quality companies, such as third party certifications. Making the commitment to submit labels to the database could become one of those things that helps consumers make that determination,”​ he said.

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