Washington, D.C.—Following the March 18announcementsby the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it is prioritizing resources and only performing “for-cause inspections” during the COVID-19 crisis, theNatural Products Association (NPA)proposed a two-pronged public-private partnership approach to ensure the safety of the global dietary supplement supply chain.

The proposal, as outlined in a press release from NPA:
Step I:  FDA Import Alert for Supplements

NPA recommends that FDA issue an import alert for supplements. "The import alert requires no additional resources but would be an effective measure that would provide important information to the Agency to facilitate their enforcement of current dietary supplement regulations," NPA explained. "An import alert places the responsibility back on the importer to ensure that the products being imported into the United States are in compliance with the FDA's laws and regulations." NPA added that FDA used this authority in 2014 in response to safety concerns related to the importation of Kratom.

Step II:  Expand Participation in the SSCI Initiative

NPA recommended expanding the number of companies who agree to meet industry specific quality assurance standards in NPA’s Supplement Safety and Compliance Initiative (SSCI).  "SSCI is an industry-driven initiative led by the nation’s leading retailers to provide a harmonized benchmark to recognize various safety standards throughout the entire dietary supplement supply chain," NPA explained. "SSCI is a bold step forward in providing quality assurance from harvest to retailer shelf. Dietary supplements must meet or exceed the SSCI benchmark to be accepted in major retailers, all with the goal of providing quality products and increasing consumer confidence."

Related: NPA Launches COVID-19 Educational Campaign NPA: Natural Products Retailers & Their Supply Chain are Essential During COVID-19 Pandemic SSCI Praised Across Industry Summits

“The benefits of good public-private partnerships are one of the real success stories from this crisis, and we are trying to apply that lesson in the supplement industry as well," Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA, said in the release. "FDA is absolutely right to prioritize resources but there are some additional strong steps worth exploring to protect consumers.  We want to work with government officials and all stakeholders to fill gaps where necessary and ensure we maintain the safest food and supplement supply in the world."