Study: Most Americans Hold Retailers Responsible for Quality, Safety of Supps

Ann Arbor, MI—97% of consumers say it’s important for retailers to visit and inspect manufacturing facilities that produce dietary supplements, personal care products, and OTC drugs. And nearly 85% expect retailers to test supplements and other health and wellness products for safety (though only 32% think retailers actually do this). That’s the finding of an online survey of 1,000 Americans conducted in July 2021 on behalf of NSF International.

“We’re seeing a trend across categories in the health and wellness sector—consumers increasingly want retailers to stand behind the products they sell,” said David Trosin, Managing Director of Health Sciences Certification at NSF International, in a press release. “According to this research, consumers not only expect retailers to test products for safety, they want them to inspect manufacturing facilities for compliance with current good manufacturing practices.”

As NSF explained in the release, manufacturers of dietary supplements and OTC drugs are required to comply with GMPs under U.S. federal regulations—but they are not required to provide proof of GMP compliance before shipping products. Several retailers have recently set their own standards, requiring brands and manufacturers to provide proof of GMP compliance and other quality assurance requirements. As this new study suggests, that’s a smart move, as Americans want retailers to go beyond what’s required by law and conduct their own due diligence audits of manufacturing facilities.

Trosin highlighted the significance: “Failure to comply with GMPs can lead to a host of quality and safety issues. You can get cross contamination of products, mislabeled products, inaccurate formulations and generally unhygienic conditions. Everyone in the industry understands the importance of good manufacturing practices and now it’s clear consumers are concerned about this too.”

The study also revealed that 95% of consumers have concerns about the quality and safety of dietary supplements, personal care products and OTC drugs.

What would build their trust?

  • 62% said of respondents said “independent certification from a health and safety organization” would make them trust these products more.
  • 61% said products “made in a facility that has been inspected for good manufacturing practices” would build trust.
  • 44% said “lab testing by the retailer” would help build trust.
  • 17% said “social media comments” and “celebrity endorsements” would build trust.
  • 14% said “advertising on TV” helps build trust.

What retail outlets are “most likely to sell the highest-quality” health and wellness products?

  • 62% of consumers said national chain stores/pharmacies.
  • 28% said online sellers.
  • 17% said fitness centers.

Other survey highlights as outlined in the release:

  • 56% of consumers said COVID-19 made them more concerned about the safety of supplements, personal care products and OTC drugs.
  • 48% of consumers said they research dietary supplement product claims themselves; 39% said they research personal care product and OTC product claims.
  • 47% are more likely to research a Hollywood movie than the claims on supplements and other health and wellness products.
  • 17% of consumers said they are more likely to read the Facebook terms and conditions than the ingredient labels of supplements, personal care products and OTCs.

In terms of what the survey findings mean for business, Trosin said: “The survey data points to increasing demand for independent product testing and GMP auditing. We envision a future when most major retailers will require brands to show proof of product quality in some form or another, whether through independent assurance of GMP compliance, independent laboratory testing of products or both.”

Related: GRMA Authorizes NSF to Provide GMP Certification Services to Members
Future of Dietary Supplements Discussed at CHPA’s RSQ