Barbara Davis, PLT's vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas, NV about how her company has been trying to deal with the increasing pressure on the supply end of the market. Some of that has come from Capitol Hill. Senators Dick Durbin, D-IL, Richard Blumenthal, D-CT and Claire McCaskill, D-OR have called for new regulations, citing questionable ingredients in dietary supplements and energy drinks. In the case of the first two Senators, the question has been undisclosed amounts of caffeine in products, and questionable marketing practices aimed at underage consumers. McCaskill’s recent concern was the existence of dietary supplements based on vinpocetine and picamilon, neither of which should qualify as a dietary ingredient, she said.
Of course the biggest push has come from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has taken the manufacturers of herbal dietary supplements to task over the contents of their products. Schneiderman has uncovered what he claimed were fraudulent labeling of dietary supplements based on DNA tests of the products. Both in the first go round and the most recent case concerning devil’s claw, industry experts have hotly contested his conclusions. Nevertheless, the consensus seems to be that additional transparency on the part of suppliers and manufacturers is called for as a way to deal with this ongoing public relations nightmare.
Focused quality message
“This industry as a whole is changing. There are increased pressures from a number of places and we are seeing that a lot of our customers, the manufacturers, are really trying to rise to the challenge,” Davis said.
One of the issues the industry has had has been a matter of perception. Suppliers such as PLT may have felt in the past that they were operating in a transparent manner, one that would pass muster with the NY AG or anyone else, but that message was perhaps not being fully communicated. So the company instituted its new operational umbrella, which is a more focused telling of its quality message.
“It’s really not a huge change with the way we do things day-to-day,” Davis said. “PLT 360 is a framework focused on four pillars: integrity, quality, sustainability and efficacy. It’s the same things that we always do but in an organized framework that we can communicate more easily to our customers.”
Davis said through this process PLT has been reviewing how it decides whether to work with a new ingredient.
“We sort of do a gap analysis to make sure the ingredients have documented efficacy,” she said.
PLT features a wide range of products including MenaQ7, a branded form of vitamin K2, GliSODin, a branded form of superoxide dismutase and Satireal, a satiety ingredient derived from saffron.