CRN Sets the Record Straight about Dietary Supplement Listing

—It’s time NPA starts telling the truth—

DECEMBER 20, 2022

Washington, DC – The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today responded to false information being propagated on social media and other platforms by the Natural Products Association (NPA) regarding effects of the bi-partisan Dietary Supplement Listing Act, as well as the nature of CRN’s support for the proposal and Sen. Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) relationship to the dietary supplement industry.

NPA’s continued false narrative does the legitimate dietary supplement industry a disservice when it peddles misinformation and maligns Members of Congress. These are the exact tactics our detractors accused this industry of 30 years ago to describe an industry resistant to common sense and basic regulations.

FACT - CRN is a longtime supporter of FDA’s calls for a federal dietary supplement listing program as a critical new tool for the agency, retailers, and consumers offering more transparency of the dietary supplement marketplace in the U.S. CRN’s Board of Directors, which drives the association’s policies and legislative strategy, has repeatedly endorsed both the general policy and the specific legislative aspects of a dietary supplement product registry for several years. In 2017, CRN launched the Supplement OWL® as a model of a product registry, which is now required for CRN members who market supplements in the U.S., and to which many non-member companies voluntarily submit their labels as well.

FACT - Contrary to NPA’s conjecture, the Dietary Supplement Listing Act is not a form of premarket approval. Nothing in the original legislation conferred any ability by FDA to reject a submitted label and in an effort to counter this misinformation campaign, CRN requested and obtained the insertion of language stating, “Nothing in this section shall be construed…to grant the Secretary authority to require the approval of a dietary supplement prior to marketing.” More recently accepted revisions would also add, “A listing is deemed complete once all fields of required information have been completed by the responsible person who represents that the product will be marketed in the United States as a dietary supplement.” Claims that dietary supplement listing is akin to premarket approval of supplements are just false.

NPA continues to promote other misrepresentations about dietary supplement listing too, many of which have been thoroughly refuted publicly in these published articles:

In addition to fallacies about the legislation itself, NPA persists in vilifying Sen. Durbin by falsely attributing inflammatory language to him. In fact, in a floor speech earlier this month, Sen. Durbin said, “More than 75% of people living in America, myself included, my family too, use dietary supplements such as a vitamin or mineral.” It’s possible to respectfully disagree with someone without disparaging them. CRN believes in working collaboratively on issues of mutual interest to develop common ground and steer the outcome of legislative proposals. Politics doesn’t have to be divisive, inflammatory, and vitriolic. Those are just tactics of obstruction, not tools to get things done.

As for the statement that CRN “has sold you out,” we will humbly accept the mantle of “industry leader.” Industry-leading, quality-focused companies have consistently complained that FDA isn’t doing enough to enforce the law or to maintain a fair and level playing field for conscientious marketers—yet FDA has repeatedly stated that it can’t effectively oversee an industry if it can’t see the four corners of the marketplace. Dietary supplement listing requires minimal effort to comply (just ask the companies already in the Supplement OWL); it becomes self-implementing as retailers and online platforms will refuse to allow products that are not in the registry; and it gives consumers transparency. Rather than a “sell-out,” that sounds like a win-win for everyone—except for the companies who want to hide in the shadows and remain unaccountable for what they sell!

The fact is, our industry has evolved, as CRN members understand. The industry itself has lobbied for and achieved several additional measures allowing for enhanced regulation of dietary supplements over the years, including the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act in 2006, Good Manufacturing Practices in 2007, and the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act in 2014. When industry works with lawmakers to ensure that their well-intentioned proposals work for legitimate players, everyone wins—including the industry itself.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 200 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. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.