The initiative was launched at the beginning of 2017, together with some of the largest retailers of natural products and supplements—GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Walmart, and Whole Foods—as a way to boost consumer confidence by streamlining the myriad of safety and authenticity standards out today.
The pilot audits, conducted at the facilities of Nature’s Way, US Pharma Labs, and GNC’s Nutra Manufacturing Operation, helped identify the discrepancies between the different auditors with the aim to address those gaps with the establishment of benchmark standards.
“It’s not a strong-arm tactic,” Dr. Dan Fabricant, president and CEO of NPA, told NutraIngredients-USA when the initiative was first unveiled at SupplySide West 2016. “No matter the audit scheme, there’s a way to benchmark it and compare apples with apples.”
With the completion of the pilot audit, the next steps will be to use the data towards developing a benchmark and refining the current guidance document and audit tool.
A retailer-driven effort
In the initiative’s early stages, GNC and Walmart spearheaded developing the initiative. “SSCI’s goal is to bolster consumer confidence and increase transparency and safety in the dietary supplement and natural product industry from farm to factory to finished dosage, which aligns with current consumer and regulator expectations,” said Guru Ramanathan, Ph.D., chief innovation officer and senior vice president for GNC.
He added: “This initiative will unify and promote supply chain quality benchmarking, and provide a unique stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking. Stakeholders that join this group will be pioneers in the formation of industry benchmarking, converging numerous industry safety standards and determining equivalency between safety schemes.”
Dadrion A. Gaston, senior director of corporate ethics and compliance at Walmart said: “Walmart is excited to be a part of the Supplement Safety and Compliance Initiative. SSCI’s benchmark creates global standard harmonization while promoting continuous quality improvement enhancing dietary supplement compliance and consumer safety.
“SSCI is a game changer and a bold step forward for the industry. We look forward to having additional retailers and others in the industry join this effort as a united force to enhance the authenticity and safety of dietary supplements ultimately protecting the health and safety of consumers everywhere.”