CRN, NAD End Self-Regulatory Program, Encourage Industry to Stay Vigilant

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Washington, D.C.—The Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF) and the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division (NAD) have announced in a press release that the CRN/NAD program will conclude on July 1, 2020.

The program was launched in 2006, and has served as a self-regulatory initiative to monitor and promote truthful and accurate advertising in the dietary supplement industry. The FTC, according to the press release, has supported the program as “an excellent example of self-regulation.” It allowed companies the opportunity to voluntarily change non-compliant behavior before facing consequences from the FTC and other law enforcement agencies.

In the press release, CRN encourages the industry to stay vigilant of suspect advertising and to consider filing challenges against companies making egregious claims in the supplement marketplace. Filing a challenge with NAD costs less than litigation, and generally moves faster than a court decision. NAD has developed the SWIFT (Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track) program to provide companies with an even faster method to address certain advertising challenges. Issues eligible for the SWIFT program include those in which the material connection between an influencer and advertiser is not disclosed; those with content that looks editorial but is really an advertisement; misleading sales and pricing claims; and simple express claims.

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Megan Olsen, VP and Associate General Counsel at CRN, said in the release: “Though the CRN/NAD program has come to its end, our partnership with NAD continues. The responsible dietary supplement industry recognizes the role truthful and accurate advertising plays in leveling the playing field for honest advertisers and in providing consumers with accurate information about products they rely on to improve their health and wellness.”

Laura Brett, VP of NAD, added: “We appreciate CRN’s leadership in supporting truthful and transparent advertising for the dietary supplement industry. Our partnership highlights the value that independent and voluntary advertising self-regulation can bring in promoting fair competition in industries that are evolving and rapidly changing.”

Some of the program’s achievements include:

  • Creating over 300 decisions involving a range of claims, from those regarding weight loss and heart disease to those including tinnitus and sun protection.
  • Creating an extensive library of claim substantiation guidance, which is clear, consistent, and harmonized with guidance from federal regulations, providing the industry with a wealth of information regarding how to develop substantiation for their claims.
  • Raising company-to-company competitor challenges–meaning that other watchdogs are now on the case.

Kat Dunnigan, Senior Attorney at NAD who led the CRN program for the last 8 years, concluded: “We feel confident about the progress made to date and the future of truthful, accurate, and evidence-based advertising in this space.”

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