CRN Adopts New Guidelines for Dietary Supplements and Functional Food Sold on E-Commerce Platforms

FEBRUARY 14, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement and functional food industry, announced today new Voluntary Guidelines for Industry that will assure online customers have access to the same product information available to shoppers purchasing the same items in store locations. The new recommendations align with recent draft guidelines being developed by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling, a group that sets standards and guidelines for nutrition information on food packages. The guidelines call on brand marketers and online retailers to provide consumers with essential product information for dietary supplements and functional food during e-commerce transactions. 

CRN’s new Voluntary Guidelines strongly urge CRN members to provide the same information on their online product retail platforms and sales pages as would be available to consumers on labels during in-store purchases. The guidelines address the information that is minimally required for display/availability to consumers on internet platforms for the sale of supplements and functional food that are maintained and controlled by the manufacturers, or product sales pages for third-party marketplaces where the display is controlled by the producer. While adherence to the Guidelines is expected for CRN members, all producers of finished dietary supplements (branded, private label or store brands, packagers, distributors, importers, online retailers) are also encouraged to comply. 

“CRN and its members recognize that consumers planning to purchase a dietary supplement via online platforms should have access to the same information to read, review, compare and make a purchasing decision as if that person was standing in their neighborhood store, able to hold the physical package and read its label,” said CRN Sr. Vice President, International and Regulatory Affairs, Jim Griffiths, Ph.D. “Choosing to purchase these products online should not decrease one’s ability to obtain product information to make buying decisions.” 

The recommendations call for the following to be included on e-commerce websites: 

  • The product’s name; 
  • List of ingredients including all dietary ingredients as listed in the Supplements Facts panel and other ingredients; 
  • List of allergens; 
  • Net quantity of contents expressed as weight, measure or numerical count (e.g., pills/capsules/gels); 
  • Name and address of the producer; 
  • Instructions for use such as dosing instructions, including any warning/cautionary statements that appear on the label; 
  • If a structure/function claim is made, the FDA DSHEA disclaimer statement in the statute should be displayed on the webpage: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”; 
  • Storage instructions such as “store in a cool, dry place;” or “keep refrigerated.” 

CRN is recommending that companies comply with the guidelines within 12 months of the effective date (by December 31, 2024). Voluntary Guidelines for Industry that are developed by CRN are not a requirement of membership but are strongly encouraged for members. The association also considers Voluntary Guidelines to reflect a standard for industry practice and holds its members accountable for failure to follow them. They are typically developed by a task force or working group of impacted members—in this case, the E-Commerce Work Group (ECWG)—and were given final approval by the CRN Board of Directors in December 2023. 

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 180+ 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.  Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.