Consumers: health product safety, quality is the burden of retailers

Manufacturers of dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs are required by law to follow good manufacturing practices, but consumers aren’t sure the law goes far enough, according to a July survey by NSF International.

“We are seeing a trend across all categories of the health and wellness industry: Consumers increasingly want retailers to support the products they sell,” said David Trosin, general manager of consumer certification. health sciences at NSF International, in a press release. “According to this research, consumers not only expect retailers to test product safety, they want [retailers] to go further and inspect manufacturing facilities to verify compliance with applicable good manufacturing practices. “

The study found that 97% of Americans said it was important for retailers to visit and inspect the manufacturing facilities that make these products.

Additionally, nearly 85% of those surveyed said they expected retailers to test supplements and other wellness products for their safety,

“Failure to adhere to GMP can lead to a host of quality and safety issues. You can get product cross-contamination, mislabelled products, inaccurate formulations and generally unhygienic conditions,” Trosin said.

“Everyone in the industry understands the importance of good manufacturing practices and it is now clear that consumers are concerned about this as well,” he said. But only 32% of those polled said they believe retailers actually test the safety of supplements and wellness products, according to the survey.

At the end of last year, Amazon set standards for dietary supplements sold through its e-commerce site. However, not everyone in the industry was happy.

Frank Jaksch, co-founder and executive chairman of Chromadex, told NBJ in April that the requirements were not stringent enough.

“To truly ensure the quality of supplements sold on Amazon would require the implementation of a monitoring or testing program,” said Jaksch. “If we use history as a guide, without a mechanism for monitoring and enforcing these specifications, it does essentially nothing to ensure the quality of the products sold.”

“When retailers develop their own standards that don’t match current manufacturing practices or limit a company’s ability to work with a specific third-party lab, the result is a burden on manufacturers and does not help consumers.” , Megan Olsen, vice president and general counsel for the Responsible Nutrition Council, said Nutrition Business Journal in February.

Because different standards between retailers would complicate manufacturing, the Global Retail and Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA) created a program that incorporates GMP for dietary supplements – a program that provides retailers with a standard by which they can be sure that manufacturers follow the law, Olsen mentioned.

In April, Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, said, “Amazon’s revised dietary supplement compliance program is viewed by many supplement brands as a step in the right direction. perception that this will benefit consumers and responsible supplement companies. “

McGuffin praised Amazon’s new requirement that product labels be visible on every seller’s webpage. “The AHPA adopted a similar policy in 2006 to encourage the provision of product information before purchase, so that consumers know what they are buying,” he said.

What do consumers want to know?

When polled, 95% of consumers polled said they were concerned about the quality and safety of dietary supplements, personal care products, and over-the-counter medications.

What would increase their confidence in the products?

  • 62% said they had obtained independent certification from a health and safety organization.
  • 61% said it was made in a factory that was inspected for good manufacturing practices.
  • 44% said lab testing was done by the retailer.
  • 17% said social media comments and celebrity recommendations.
  • 14% said they advertise on television.

Consumers most likely to require lab tests on supplements, personal care products and over-the-counter products are consumers with children, consumers in urban areas, consumers aged 23 to 35, and men earning over $ 90,000 per year.

Consumers were also asked which retailers they thought were most likely to sell the highest quality health and wellness products.

  • 62% reported national chain stores or pharmacies.
  • 28% said sellers online.
  • 17% reported fitness centers.

The online survey of 1,000 representative Americans was conducted in July 2021 on behalf of NSF International. The study’s margin of error is +/- 3.1% at a 95% confidence level.

What COVID-19 had to do with it

Unsurprisingly, a majority of consumers, 56%, said the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more concerned about the safety of supplements, personal care products, and over-the-counter medications.

Of course, the pandemic has affected supply chains and may have opened the door for unscrupulous suppliers to bring their products into those supply chains. Most industries have struggled to keep their supply chains running smoothly. To fill the gaps, they had to find new suppliers or vendors, Sandra Lee, CEO of NJ Labs, told Whole Foods magazine in September.

“As a result, new opportunistic companies are emerging now. These companies tend to be inexperienced and often rush processes, producing products that can end up containing adulterated materials and ingredients,” Lee said. “An independent laboratory with the right quality management system must be impartial, clear in its methodology and traceable. Quality-driven laboratories are in a better position to identify and resolve issues with compromised supplies. “

Maria J. Book