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Rules & Regs: New seal for dietary supplements

Hoping to help consumers make more informed choices in dietary supplements, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a nonprofit organization that sets standards for the drug industry, has launched a voluntary verification program.

Products that contain the ingredients listed on the product label in the strength listed, do not exceed certain levels of contamination, and comply with good manufacturing processes will qualify for a “mark” or seal to be displayed on the package. The organization stressed that its certification program is aimed at label accuracy and in no way certifies the safety or efficacy of the product. USP will not review products it considers toxic. Determining if a product is safe and effective is the Food and Drug Administration’s job, although its regulation of dietary supplements was curtailed by the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which permits supplements to be brought to market without the same level of scrutiny as for drugs. Supplement packages can bear claims concerning the supplement’s effect on the structure and function of the body but not on its ability to treat or cure disease. USP becomes the fourth organization offering a voluntary approval program for dietary supplements, joining the Good Housekeeping Institute,, and NSF International. Supplement manufacturers pay fees to have their products reviewed.

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