Washington, DC—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) announced new Voluntary Guidelines for Industry designed to assure that online customers have access to the same product information available to those who shop in store. CRN said the recommendations align with recent draft guidelines being developed by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (which sets standards and guidelines for nutrition information on food packages) and call on brand marketers and online retailers to provide consumers with essential product information for dietary supplements and functional food. 

The 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.Voluntary Guidelines for Industry that are developed by CRN are not a requirement of membership, the association said, but are strongly encouraged for members. CRN added 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 Jim Griffiths, Ph.D., CRN Senior Vice President, International and Regulatory Affairs, in a press release. “Choosing to purchase these products online should not decrease one’s ability to obtain product information to make buying decisions.” 

About CRN's Guidelines for e-Commerce:

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. 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.” 
  • Companies are asked to comply with the guidelines within 12 months of the effective date—so by December 31, 2024. The association said it 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. 

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