Experts Review Herbal Supplement Regulation, Testing Procedures During Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus Briefing

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2015—Congressional staff this week heard from scientific experts about a frequent topic in the news in recent months: herbal dietary supplements—how they are tested and how they are regulated. The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC) in cooperation with the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry—the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)—held an educational briefing, “Herbal Supplements: Realities vs. Headlines,” on May 12, providing staffers with science-based information on the quality control and testing methods recommended by FDA and used by companies to ensure herbal products are safe, properly manufactured and adhere to regulations.

Darryl Sullivan, director, scientific and regulatory affairs, for the Nutritional Chemistry and Food Safety Division at Covance Laboratories, and chair of the AOAC Stakeholder Panel on Dietary Supplements, outlined the criteria for a good quality control program for dietary supplements, noting the importance of complying with good manufacturing practices (GMPs) as mandated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Mr. Sullivan also reviewed how some companies go beyond basic compliance to enhance quality, confirming that “enhanced quality controls really can give us a great deal of confidence in finished products.”

Frank Jaksch, Jr., co-founder and CEO, ChromaDex, a provider of technologies for quantitative analysis of natural products, discussed some of the challenges supplement companies face when it comes to testing. “There may be challenges, but testing is assuredly possible,” he said. He provided specific examples about the testing methods that are appropriate for testing ingredients versus finished products, and spoke specifically about DNA barcode testing as an emerging technology. “DNA barcode testing is not a quality control tool,” he noted. “It’s a research tool.”

This is the first DSC educational briefing of 2015, with more expected throughout the year. The DSC has presented a variety of topics to staffers since its founding in 2006, including most recently in 2014: the history, background and impact of DSHEA; understanding dietary supplement labeling; and nutrient shortfalls. The bipartisan, bicameral DSC provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on dietary supplements, directing attention to the role of dietary supplements in health promotion and disease prevention.

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The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal and botanical products industry. AHPA is comprised of more than 300 domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. Website: www.ahpa.org.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 133-year-old-trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to promoting the increasingly vital role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy. Visit www.chpa.org and www.otcsafety.org.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit www.crnusa.org. Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.

The Natural Products Association (NPA) is the trade association representing the entire natural products industry. We advocate for our members who supply, manufacture and sell natural ingredients or products for consumers. The Natural Products Association promotes good manufacturing practices as part of the growth and success of the industry. Founded in 1936, NPA represents over 2,000 members accounting for more than 10,000 locations of retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. Visit www.NPAinfo.org.

The United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) is an association representing many leading natural products, dietary supplement, functional food and analytical and technology companies that share a commitment to provide consumers with natural health products of superior quality, benefit and reliability. Founded in Utah in 1991, UNPA was instrumental in the passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and continues to take a leadership position in regulatory issues and industry best practices. Visit www.unpa.com.