Supplement OWL product registry ready to accept product labels

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Supplement OWL product registry ready to accept product labels

Related tags Dietary supplement Crn

The much anticipated Supplement OWL (Online Wellness Library) – a product label database – is moving into the second phase of beta-testing and is now accepting product labels from dietary supplement finished product manufacturers and marketers.

Nine companies served as original beta-testers, working with UL, which is developing and administering the Supplement OWL, to improve the process of inputting product labels. Beta-testing involved seven members of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) – FoodState; Garden of Life; Glanbia Performance Nutrition; Herbalife; NBTY; Pharmavite – and two non-CRN members – GNC (member of the Natural Products Association) and Herbs, Etc. (member of the American Herbal Products Association).

“It was incredibly helpful to have these companies test the product registry, and their input allowed us to better understand where the challenges were and how we needed to meet those challenges to improve the product,” ​said Erik Eberhart of UL.

CRN is now urging companies to test out the product by inputting labels into the product registry prior to its public launch in January.

Encouraging participation

Speaking at the association’s annual conference in Dana Point, CA last week, Steve Mister, CRN President & CEO, said that participation in the database will be a condition of CRN membership. Three strategies will encourage participation beyond the CRN membership, said Mister: “Firstly, now we have a working registry we will be starting a marketing campaign to encourage participation,” ​he said. “You will start seeing ads specifically directed at finished product marketers. Ingredients suppliers and contract manufacturers should also promote the OWL to their customers.

“Secondly, we will be asking the other trade associations and trade media to join us in support of this. We want this to be the industry registry and not just CRN. Hopefully other associations will be able to make it a condition of membership or at least encourage and give public support,”​ added Mister.

The third strategy involves retailers, he said. “I did a tour of major retailers including Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Amazon, and so on, to sit down and talk about need for a registry. Many have expressed an interest. Now we have the registry, I’ll be going back to these retailers to show them it’s open for business.”


Steve Mister screenshot
To watch a video with Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN, discussing the Supplement OWL, please click HERE.

The registry operates with two tiers: Tier one is basic product information is free for any company willing to supply the required information about its products and will be accessible online at no charge to the public. The information will include details about the product, including ingredients, brand name, allergen statements, number of servings and more.

Tier 1 will also require companies to provide manufacturing and packaging facility contact information accessible only to FDA, and will generate a unique product identifier for each product. 

UL, in consultation with CRN, and other industry leaders, will soon begin developing Tier 2.

Mister commended UL and those companies—both CRN members and non-members—who have put in so much effort to date to ensure that the Supplement OWL is meeting its targeted deadlines and keeping the project moving forward. “This is a case of the industry demonstrating its cooperation, its maturity, and its willingness to add self-regulatory initiatives to supplement government regulation,” ​he said.

Time to rebuild trust

Also speaking at the CRN annual conference, Duffy MacKay, ND, Sr VP of scientific and regulatory affairs, said that creating the finished dietary supplement product registry has taken a village.

“The idea is born out of multiple industry groups with shared values, each having the same conversation independent of one another,” ​he told attendees. “Similar conversations were occurring inside and outside of CRN and, coincidentally, each of these groups came to the same conclusions.

“This industry needs to step up its self-regulatory efforts and a finished product registry is an obvious place to start. Furthermore, this can’t just be a single trade association initiative—industry must work together on an industry-wide product registry. Importantly, it was also agreed and understood that a finished product registry is not the solution to all of our problems, but that it provides a solid foundation for transparency and is a tool where additional self-regulatory features ‘with teeth’ can be added,”​ said Dr MacKay.

supplements labelling content ingredients
© iStock

Dr MacKay noted that 2015 was a turbulent year for the dietary supplement industry, and would go down as the point when responsible industry got serious about taking its reputation back from the rogue players that have hijacked it.

“It is time to rebuild trust with our stakeholders,” ​he said. “We start to rebuild trust by developing meaningful proactive self-regulatory programs. We have the NAD program and now we have The Supplement OWL.

“Stop asking ourselves what am I getting for my effort, and start asking our regulatory colleagues how can industry be part of the solution.

“What can industry do to make it easier to get rid of bad actors that ignore the law? We need to create bright lines between legitimate industry and rogue players. We need to make it easier for retailers and consumers to evaluate products, and easily find legitimate, quality dietary supplements. To do this, we have built a dietary supplement finished product registry.”

For more information about the registry, please click HERE​.  

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