The potential demand for verification of supplement safety and quality has never been higher, said Michael O’Hara, general manager of global nutraceuticals for UL. The actions of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has shined an unwelcome, national spotlight on the industry, once again calling into question in mainstream media stories whether the regulation of the industry is stringent enough to keep substandard products off the market. Responsible companies are looking for a way to differentiate themselves, O’Hara said.
UL brand recognition
But other certifications are on the market. For example, NSF certifies production facilities, and USP offers a certification for dietary supplement finished products. Is there room in the market for additional certifications?
O’Hara said that UL’s broad recognition with consumers would resonate in the supplements marketplace. Some of UL’s trust built up in other market sectors would provide a halo of quality in this new sphere.
“We think we’ve got very strong brand recognition with 100 plus years of being a performance and safety verification organization,” O’Hara told NutraIngredients-USA. “When we put our mark on the product we show that we stand behind the product and we believe in the organization that is displaying the seal.”
“When we did our market research, we found that the penetration of those competing programs is not very deep and when we talked with consumers we found there was not a lot of recognition of those programs. Our research showed that a UL Verified Mark would be welcomed by the dietary supplements industry,” he said.
The new seal is the top level of a tiered certification program, based on a set of guidelines the organization brands as its UL ClearView. At the top level of verification, which confers the permission to use the seal on finished products, UL conducts surveillance testing on a biannual basis of the covered finished products, O’Hara said. The company also reviews a client’s GMP compliance, does a label review and looks into the client’s product release testing protocols to make sure they are up to snuff.
“From a best practice perspective, an approach that drives transparency into industry quality assurance programs can help increase consumer knowledge, drive brand awareness and loyalty, and support bottom-line improvements,” said Sajeev Jesudas, president of UL’s consumer business unit.
UL recently teamed with the Natural Products Association to offer GMP audits of dietary supplement manufacturing facilities and to partner in a series of education sessions for industry.