CRN Greenlights Creation of Product Registry for Supplements

Washington, D.C.—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)’s Board of Directors has approved the concept for creating a Voluntary Product Registry for Dietary Supplements.

If companies embrace such a registry, regulators will have more visibility into the industry, says CRN president and CEO Steve Mister.“We should not hear FDA talk about how they don’t know what’s in the market or how many companies are out there,” he states. “That’s an early payoff.”

If the system becomes mandatory in the future, it would create a system where regulators could see when new products enter the market and could come down on fringe companies that do not submit labels to the registry. It would also be easier for retailers to stop selling products from companies that are not willing to be transparent.

For the time being, CRN is investigating whether any existing databases could be adapted for their use, and will report its findings to the Board in the beginning of December. “At that point, we’ll have a much better idea of timing,” says Mister. “If something’s already out there that we can use, this registry could be up and running within six months.”

Tools similar to a registry of dietary supplements include the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)’s label database or Underwriters Laboratories’ Clearview database of products that retailers use. “It’s an interesting coincidence that the ODS database is up for renewal of the contract and ODS is seeking comments for proposed improvements to the database,” Mister states. 

Another option is taking the existing structure–function notice system that companies already must file with FDA and “trying to piggyback on that so that companies would not only file their structure–function claims, but also provide the entire product label to FDA.”

If CRN decides it would be better to create a new framework with a new database, the timeline will be longer. Mister also noted that CRN would foot the bill for this project.

As CRN moves forward, Mister is hoping to collaborate with other trade associations to make it more of an industry-wide initiative. “We would love to have other organizations join us in this process,” Mister states.

Reactions from CRN members have been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Mister. He adds, “They believe this is a foundation, to create some sort of registry so that people know what’s in the marketplace.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine December 2015 (online 11/4/15)