The joint initiative between NSF and leaders from major retailers and manufacturers like Ahold USA, Costco, Daymon Worldwide, Walgreens, Walmart and Wegmans was announced last year, well before the New York Attorney General cease and desist letters to leading retailers.
“We were already having the conversation for one year prior to that situation,” said Lisa Thomas, GM of dietary supplements, sports nutrition and beverage quality at NSF International. “It definitely made retailers more comfortable to join and they feel they have something in their pocket.”
“Dietary supplements keep getting pushed to self-regulate before the industry gets over-regulated, and we’re going to show we can self-regulate,” she added.
The GRMA team has developed a blueprint to create standardized requirements for each product category, including dietary supplements, cosmetics/personal care products, OTC drug products, and medical devices. The alliance also utilized insights from industry experts such as the Council for Responsible Nutrition, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Nutrition Business Journal and NSF International to create formal ANSI standard notifications, the first step in the standards development process.
“It’s not about NSF writing the standard,” said Thomas. “There is a joint committee that develops the standard. The JC has one NSF member and there are members from manufacturers, retailers, scientists, government, and academia.”
The JC will not start from scratch, however, and all the retailers in the program have agreed that NSF’s current standard is a good starting point, she said.
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“We already have 400 manufacturers in the NSF GMP program, and a good majority of the major ones,” she said. “The retailers want something on top of 111.”
The standards will utilize relevant regulations as a foundation while also encompassing additional retailer requirements, explained Thomas. The applicable regulations will serve as a baseline for each standard including the relevant parts of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as well as dietary supplement current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 111.
Working its way back into the supply chain
“This program is going to be huge,” said David Trosin, director of business development - dietary supplements at NSF. “It’s going to increase efficiency and quality and it’s going to work its way back into the supply chain and overseas.”
The various dietary supplement trade associations have also been open and supportive of the initiative, added Trosin. “One of the key aspects is the free-flow of information between retailers and manufacturers. It’s important the trade associations are supportive because the companies are members of the associations.”
Loren Israelsen, President of the United Natural Products Alliance, has previously voiced his support of the standard. “NSF International has proven this ability with the development of NSF/ANSI 173 for dietary supplements, an American National Standard that has set the bar of safety and quality in the dietary supplement industry,” he said. “A standard of this rigor and uniformity is what the industry will most benefit from.”
The GRMA is open to all retailers, store brand manufacturers, relevant trade associations and certification bodies.