Identity, purity far easier to police than claims, ANSI meeting concludes

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images
Industry-wide quality standards for identity and purity will be easier to agree upon than benchmarks for claims substantiation, according to the minutes of a recent stakeholders meeting.

Last week the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) released a report of a meeting it held on May 13 in Washington, DC on the role of standardization in advancing safety, quality, and trust in the global supply chain for dietary supplements. 

Broad swath of industry represented

The meeting drew 58 attendees from 37 organizations, representing manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, trade and professional associations, consumer organizations, and others. 

It featured presentations by experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and others.

A key focus of discussion was the interplay between two recent initiatives. One is the new certification program devised by Grocery Retailers and Manufacturers Association (GRMA) against the ANSI/NSF 455-2 standard on good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements.  The second is the Supplement Safety and Compliance Initiative (SSCI) benchmarking guidance documents recently released for public review. Both represent significant steps forward by the dietary supplements industry. 

The overarching goals for the collaboration is to build consumer confidence in dietary supplements and trust throughout the supply chain and to ensure the safety, quality, and integrity of dietary supplements and ingredients.

The meeting participants agreed that some of these goals will be easier to meet than others. It’s more straightforward, for example, to agree upon standards that will ensure that what is claimed to be in the bottle is actually in there, and that nothing else is in there.

It’s another matter, however, to agree upon an industry-wide standard on what a marketer might reasonably say about what the product is supposed to do.  The ANSI report on the meeting noted that the neither SSCI nor the GRMA audit initiative are specifically addressing claims at this time.

“Efficacy or making claims about products is a much more amorphous area than trying to assure quality standards, purity, identity, potency, etc. Those are easier than trying to develop industrywide standards for when something is proven to be substantiated for whatever claims are being made,” ​the ANSI meeting report says. 

Strategies for the future

Participants at the meeting agreed upon some goals and emphases going forward, which include:

  • Ethical practices and good faith efforts to work in the public interest to reduce safety and health risks to consumers
  • Networking, and collaborating on industry solutions and best practices
  • Exchanging data and maintaining information in a publicly available registry
  • Establishing meaningful benchmarks, requirements, and quality outcomes
  • Relying on transparent, open, voluntary consensus standards and technical materials
  • Periodic assessments by competent auditors to measure conformance with these standards
  • Consumer communication.

For more information about the meeting or to download the presentations made there, click here​.

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