The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington D.C.) now has plans underway to create an industry-wide dietary supplement product registry, which it expects to launch by the end of the year.
At its March meeting, the CRN board of directors unanimously authorized creation of the registry, which will be developed and managed by a third-party vendor. CRN announced the board’s authorization today.
“This is one step we’re making to take back our industry from the lawbreakers, from the renegades, from the companies that spurn regulation,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, in the announcement. “Our member companies have turned a corner and are fully engaged in efforts to separate the legitimate manufacturers marketing healthful products from the hit-and-run, fly-by-nighters selling quick fixes and illegal drugs wrapped with a supplement label. We need all companies who care about our consumers and the sustained growth of this industry to join with us in this initiative.”
CRN has formed a working group to resolve specifics of the product registry, including the selection of the third-party vendor to manage the registry. Findings are expected to be presented back to the CRN board at its June meeting, Mister said.
“We’re moving in a deliberate, step-wise fashion and layering initiatives that, when combined, will address transparency, ingredient verification, and GMP compliance,” Mister said.
What About ODS?
Today’s supplement-registry announcement comes nearly three months after CRN announced that all its members, as a condition of continued membership, would be required to submit supplement product labels to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) by the end of 2016.
That requirement hasn’t changed, Mister told Nutritional Outlook, but there is a chance the deadline will be extended.
“We expect to have a report back to the board in June as to how we’re progressing with that database, and I think there is a possibility that the board may push back that deadline because of the way the two databases will interact with each other,” Mister said.
There is also the possibility that, depending on what the working group finds, participation in the new registry could also become mandatory for CRN members, explained Mister. CRN is looking at ways to create the new registry so it interfaces “in some way with the [ODS] label database so companies will not have to engage in duplicative efforts.”
While CRN continues to support the ODS database, the board ultimately decided it didn’t go far enough for the purposes of an industry-wide registry.
“It’s intended to target the research community, to be a research tool, so the consumer face of it really wasn’t what we were looking for if retailers or even consumers wanted to look for products,” Mister told Nutritional Outlook. The ODS database also lacked a unique identifier for products, such as an alpha-numeric code, and it only included information available on product labels, he added.
“We intend for our registry to include information that goes beyond what’s on the product label,” said Mister. “That will get a larger, more robust kind of registry than what ODS is currently doing.”
Two Tiers in New Registry
One defining aspect of the new registry will be multiple tiers of information accessible to different audiences. The first tier, which will be open to the public and allow participating manufacturers and marketers to add their products at no charge, will largely be limited to information on the product label. Meanwhile, the second tier will include indicators of product quality and it will be more exclusive, accessible only to specified audiences such as regulators and retailers.
“It will include third-party certifications, if you’ve had an FDA inspection of your plant, if you’ve submitted your 30-day structure-function notices for your products, if you’ve had a GMP inspection by a third party like NSF, USP, or UL,” Mister said. “Are you kosher? Are you certified organic? All of that kind of information will be in tier 2.”
CRN’s hope is that retailers “will use that [information] to make decisions about what products they want in their stores,” Mister said.
Mister also told Nutritional Outlook that while the new registry will not solve all the problems facing the supplement industry, CRN believes it is “a very important first step.”
“In order for us to address some of the other industry issues, we need to know who is out there and we need a place where the universe of legitimate products is defined,” said Mister. “And so we’re hoping that this registry is that step toward defining what the industry looks like and making it more transparent. Then we can start to address more of the other substantive issues.”
Nutritional Outlook Magazine