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The Supplement OWL Takes Flight

Phase 2

One year after the project was formally announced, the Supplement OWL (Online Wellness Library) became a reality, as the online product registry is now live. Serving as a resource for regulators, retailers, and industry, the OWL is an industry-wide, self-regulatory initiative that will help create a rich and more complete picture of the marketplace, and can be accessed by anyone using the internet.

According to Steve Mister, president and CEO, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), “Last month, during Expo West, it was heartening to witness the high level of awareness about the Supplement OWL and exhilarating to be surrounded by the industry buzz. This has been a unique opportunity for our industry: working together on a self-regulatory initiative for the greater good. We credit those thought leaders who recognized the importance of an industry-wide registry that would fill a gap for regulators, and we commend those companies who wanted to be—and are—part of the first wave of labels available in the product registry. Together, we gained consensus around a dietary supplement registry, we built it, and now we’re ready to make it grow.”

With the launch, the Supplement OWL is now widely accessible for examination. All companies can test-drive the product registry and retailers can begin to use it to evaluate products on their shelves. CRN is confident that the number of companies participating in the Supplement OWL and the number of labels included will grow to the point where users will question why a company’s label is not available in the Supplement OWL. “Today is just the start, but broader engagement, that’s the end game,” said Mister. “If you have confidence in your product and in your label, why wouldn’t you want to house it in a free product registry that demonstrates you’re willing to help the industry be more transparent and more accountable to our regulators, to retailers, and ultimately to consumers. If daylight is indeed ‘the best disinfectant,’ then the Supplement OWL helps to clean up the industry by putting products on display.”

Earlier this month, the American Botanical Council, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and the Natural Products Association publicly announced their support for the Supplement OWL. Added Mister, “We anticipate there will be additional expressions of public support. It’s the right thing to do, especially at a time when some anticipate government will seek to reduce industry regulation. That’s when we have our best opportunity to proactively find ways to raise the bar for this industry. That’s what the Supplement OWL does.”

The Supplement OWL offers two tiers of information. Participation in Tier 1 includes an image of the product, a complete product label and other fields of information, obtained principally from the label itself. There is no charge to participate in Tier 1. Tier 2 allows companies to upload additional supporting information and documentation about their products and to choose who will have access to that information. Once a label is uploaded to Tier 1, companies can participate in Tier 2 for a nominal charge.

Getting started with uploading labels involves a three-step process, beginning with outreach to UL, the global independent safety science company who is developing and administering the technology that drives the Supplement OWL, to learn what product and label information will need to be submitted. Then, companies can choose from four options to determine the best method to submit their labels: 1) electronic transfer from an existing IT system; 2) conversion from the ODS label database; 3) manual data entry; or 4) a third-party upload service.

For more information, visit www.supplementowl.org.