To prep for April public launch, Supplement OWL site gets a few tweaks

Photo: iStock

The Supplement Online Wellness Library (OWL) website has been updated to include easier data input instructions, streamlining the data population process for the first industry-wide registry of finished products.

Recently added to the site were new step-by-step instructions for companies to participate in the Tier 1 option of the Supplement OWL database. Participating in Tier 1 is free, and allows companies to include an image of the product, share complete product labels and features such as ingredients, dosage forms, claims, and contact information.

Additionally, companies can now choose from four upload options to populate their product labels into the registry: 1) electronic transfer of labels from an existing IT system; 2) conversion of labels already in the ODS Label Database; 3) manual data entry; or 4) using a third-party upload service.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the trade association spearheading the project, is currently ramping up efforts to encourage companies to fill out and participate in Supplement OWL before the product registry is made public in April. 

A brief history of Supplement OWL's conception

“OWL seeks to answer the questions: What does the supplement marketplace in the US look like? Who markets which products? Which ingredients do they contain?” explained Steve Mister, CRN's president and CEO in a guest article for NutraIngredients-USA last month.

The idea of an industry-wide finished product registry was first announced in April of last year after CRN board members unanimously authorized its creation as a way to boost transparency and consumer confidenec. The self-regulation effort was met with appreciation by the FDA.

In the summer, CRN struck a deal with global science safety company UL to develop and administer the dietary supplement product registry. Beta testing began in September, and by November, the site was up-and-running to accept dietary supplement finished product label data.

‘Establishing accountability for supplement manufacturers’

The voluntary nature of Supplement OWL means that its success relies heavily on the number, and clout, of participating companies.

For its beta-test period, the initial batch of companies included seven CRN members (FoodState, Garden of Life, Glanbia Performance Nutrition, Herbalife, NBTY, and Pharmavite) and two non-CRN members (GNC and Herbs, Etc.).

“The Supplement Owl will establish a new level of accountability for supplement manufacturers. As Justice Brandeis said over a century ago, ‘Sunshine is the best of disinfectants.’ Employing this principle, the registry will allow our regulators, our customers, and even our critics, to view full product labels, examine label claims, ingredient listings and even product certifications,” Mister wrote back in December.

“Certainly, the registry alone will not solve all the industry’s woes, but shining daylight on our products shows the willingness to be forthright about what’s in them. It will make it imminently easier for FDA to tell what’s in the market.”

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