DSHEA at 25: In conversation with Scott Bass and Loren Israelsen

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

DSHEA at 25: In conversation with Scott Bass and Loren Israelsen
The brilliant strategy of Sen. Orrin Hatch, the upswell of grassroots consumer pressure, and the ‘highly unusual’ personal intervention of an FDA Commissioner: The development and passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act is a fascinating story...

On April 23rd​ and 25th​, that story will be told by Scott Bass​ and Loren Israelsen​, two of the key architects of the actual law, exclusively on NutraIngredients-USA.

Part 1

The first part focuses on the genesis of DSHEA, the political intrigue, and the industry personalities seeking to stamp their influence on the bill that would subsequently become the law of the land.

“Loren and I became good friends in 1990 when we were drafting the NLEA [Nutrition Labelling and Education Act] exception for supplements and then I remember to this day that DSHEA really started in a call between Loren and me in December of ‘91,” ​says Bass.

“It was a snowy day, we were all flying in to Colorado for a meeting of industry and we looked at each other and said, this is it. The FDA has fired a shot across the bow by saying that herbs were not nutritional. And that’s when Loren… the people in Utah went to Hatch, and that’s how it started.”

“What people don’t release is that this unanimously passed law was actually passed only because of the brilliance of the strategy of Senator Orrin Hatch,” ​adds Bass.

The passage was not straightforward, and there were many twists and turns as the language of the bill took shape.

“This was the Rasputin Bill: It lived and died more times than you can imagine,” ​remarks Israelsen.

“One of the interesting battles and this where you saw the two fractions of the industry go at each other is that there was one group that much preferred the term ‘nutritional’ supplement and then there was the other group that insisted that it had to be ‘dietary’, because on those two words would hang all the difference.”

For a taste of what's to come, please watch this teaser:

Part 2

Bass Israelsen Screenshot DSHEA at 25

Part two focuses on the successes and shortfalls of the law over the past 25 years, and looks ahead to what comes next.

“I think that the failure of every major health care system in the world and it is in the world is what’s driving the $40 billion market because people A. don’t want to go to a hospital and B. can’t afford to,” ​says Bass. “So, they’ll do everything they can to prevent disease or maintain their health even if they have a condition even by taking a product. It may not be a dietary supplement, it could be a medical food or FSDU [foods for special dietary use] but it’s something….”

There has been a lot of talk in industry circles about modernization of DSHEA – or DSHEA 2.0, as Israelsen calls it – and what that would look like.

“If we’re really going to put a table out, invite people to sit there and say, ‘What do you think?’ we better come prepared with some very clear and specific ideas of what we think the future should look like in terms of a statutory framework,” ​says Israelsen.

“I would be intrigued to see to what degree the industry reveals its populist side in that, which will be there. And to see if there’s a new generation of leaders who would arise because there’s an opportunity now to be a leader in a new way.”

Parts 1 & 2 of DSHEA at 25: In conversation with Scott Bass & Loren Israelsen​ will air on NutraIngredients-USA on April 23 and 25.

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