As a leading dietary supplement manufacturer setting the bar on quality standards, Bluebonnet (Sugar Land, TX) was proud to host Congressman Pete Olson of Texas’ 22nd District on a tour of its headquarters in Sugar Land on August 14. Congressman Olson was impressed with his tour of Bluebonnet’s facilities, which provided him a better understanding of just how sophisticated this once small cottage industry has become.
“We were honored to represent the best of this industry and to be a shining example for Congressman Olson to directly witness how current good manufacturing practices (cGMP)-compliant manufacturing, analytical testing, packaging and distribution facilities in our industry can ensure quality control from start-to-finish,” stated Gary Barrows, president of Bluebonnet Nutrition.
“With the roll-out of our kosher certification and green initiatives over a decade ago, the tremendous expansion of our facility and analytical/microbial labs in recent years and the NSF certification of our operations nearing completion, our business has grown beyond our wildest aspirations,” Barrows added. “And doing all of this while being stewards of the environment has not only been the secret to our success, it has also given the Congressman a first-hand view of what respected manufacturers are doing in this industry so that he could better understand the products we sell.”
Two of the industry’s driving missions that Bluebonnet shared with Rep. Olson are: advocacy and transparency. Over the past 23 years, Bluebonnet has become a serious advocate for the rights of consumers to have access to and for retailers to sell natural health care products. Bluebonnet has funded lobbying efforts at state and federal levels whenever there is legislation that can potentially threaten our industry. And we have championed the concept of consumer’s right to know by walking the talk when it comes to full transparency on our labels since our inception. Bluebonnet plans to work closely with Rep. Olson’s staff and professional members of the Energy & Commerce Committee, of which he is a member, to see what can be achieved to strengthen current federal GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling bills under consideration that will offer consumers full transparency on the products they choose. Bluebonnet is not waiting for the government at the federal or state level to direct this effort. “We have, in fact, started over a year ago vetting our organic whole food products through the Non-GMO Project verification process,” Barrows added.
During the onsite discussions, it was valuable for Rep. Olson to understand the significant role supplements play in healthcare and their value in reducing health care costs. In fact, he agreed to support HR 2194, introduced by Rep. Erik Paulsen, which will allow consumers to utilize their Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) on supplements. FSA’s allow an employee to set aside a portion of his or her earnings to pay for qualified expenses, such as medical and preventative health care costs. Allowing supplements to be covered under these accounts would be a win-win situation for the industry and consumers, alike, who understand the economic and health impact of investing in nutritional supplements. 92 percent of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients. That is why Bluebonnet underscored with Rep. Olson the value of supplements in not only filling the nutrient gaps in the daily diet but at optimal levels, helping to reduce medical/prescription costs as healthcare moves away from disease care to preventative care.
The use of supplements as part of the movement from disease care to prevention requires that all players within our industry operate within the legal boundaries of DSHEA. Since some don’t, the Energy & Commerce Committee recently passed the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (DASCA) out of committee supported by Rep. Olson, to help criminalize those groups that incorporate drugs/steroids into products and pass them off as safe supplements. Bluebonnet is a major player in performance products with a line of popular before, during and after workout formulas for serious athletes and bodybuilders called Extreme Edge. Pre Workout, Carbo Load, Post Workout, and 100% Pure Whey Protein Isolate, which have been Certified for Sport by NSF, meaning they have been tested for over 165 substances banned by major sporting authorities like the NFL, MLB and NCAA. Bluebonnet has gone the extra mile to certify these products safe for professional and collegiate athletes so that they have the confidence in taking our products without the fear of being disqualified from competition because of the supplements they take. Our unprecedented efforts in ensuring that our performance products are clean, safe and effective are why Bluebonnet was pleased that the House passed this bill on September 15, and the company supports Senate passage as soon as possible.
After witnessing the myriad of cGMP analytical tests each ingredient and product goes through in our state-of-the-art laboratories at Bluebonnet, Rep. Olson personally witnessed that the products that the company produces are not only safe when the manufacturers play by the rules of DSHEA/cGMPs, but that the industry is indeed highly regulated. In fact, with over half of the country using dietary supplements daily as a way to maintain general health and well-being, he was happy to learn that dietary supplements as a category have an excellent safety track record. Additionally, after learning that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has repeatedly admitted they have all the regulatory authority they need to enforce DSHEA, Congressman Olson also concurred that the real conversation should not be about instituting more regulation but about providing the proper funding for the regulators to optimally enforce DSHEA/cGMPs.