New York City, NY—Duffy MacKay, N.D., Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) announced at the American Conference Institute’s 4thAnnual Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Dietary Supplements held on June 28, that the online product registry CRN started developing inAprilis scheduled to launch at the end of 2016. The registry would be open to all members of the industry with finished products.

At its most basic tier, the manufacturers will provide basic product information and a copy of their product labels, at no cost. A second, fee-based, voluntary tier will allow companies to provide additional documentation of their quality practices. The second tier would be accessible to regulators only.

The product registry is an effort at industry self regulation to improve its relationship with regulators such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by giving them a searchable platform from which to retrieve information easily. “At the trade association, we realize that reaching the consumer is a huge undertaking and something our members are really good at, but really where our strength is, is the communication between the industry and the regulator,” said MacKay. “However, we know that retailers are starving for better tools to evaluate products.”

The product registry’s public face will be an additional resource for retailers and consumers alike. Additionally, explains Duffy, registered products receive product identification numbers, linking products to a number in the database.  This number can be placed on the label, allowing consumers to verify if a product is registered and manufactured by a transparent company.

At a time when scrutiny of dietary supplements is high, CRN finds it prudent to complete an industry-run voluntary registry before one is imposed on the industry. “If we don’t build this, it will be built for us and it may not foster transparency as much as just introduce burdensome, duplicative tasks,” explains MacKay, using examples of registries imposed in other places, such as Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. This would provide a proven model for any potential mandatory registry. Although some may criticize the registry for not going far enough, CRN believes this to be an excellent framework that can be built upon and expanded.

In a separate announcement on June 30, CRN revealed that UL, a global independent safety science company, has been retained to develop and administer the product registry. As per their agreement, the registry will begin beta testing this summer, with a half dozen companies ranging in size, inputting their products into the registry (which could amount to hundreds of labels). During this time, they will provide feedback on the process and provide suggestions on how to improve it.

Once the registry is complete and open for business, as a condition of membership, CRN-member companies will be required to input all their product labels into the registry by July 2017. However, their registry is open to all companies who wish to participate.