The US National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) and NSF International, The Public Health and Safety Company(TM) announced this week that they have formed a strategic alliance to provide a comprehensive certification program for the dietary supplements industry. In a statement released on Wednesday the organisations outlined the new partnership. Through the partnership, NSF will use NNFA's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) materials as part of its Dietary Supplements Program and will recognise NNFA's GMP audits as meeting the requirements for the NSF Dietary Supplements Certification Program. The cooperative effort aims to set clear standards and to offer enhanced credibility for manufacturers as well as comfort for consumers. "I commend the efforts of NNFA and NSF in their commitment to ensure dietary supplements are produced to high standards and are accurately labelled," said Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), dedicated watchdog for consumer protection issues related to food safety. "These organisations have picked up the ball that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) dropped in not issuing GMP regulations. Both these programs represent another important step toward the dietary supplement industry's goal of ensuring product quality and consumer safety." NNFA's GMP program, launched initially in 1999, is a third-party certification program that includes inspections of manufacturing facilities to determine whether NNFA specified performance standards are being met regarding: extensive quality control procedures, staff training, cleanliness, equipment maintenance, record keeping and receipt of raw materials. Once certified, manufacturers are then allowed to use NNFA's GMP seal on their products. "While consumers would like to assume that every product in the marketplace meets the highest manufacturing standards, the establishment of this comprehensive, joint program will give consumers the best assurance of quality and purity," said David Seckman, NNFA's executive director and CEO. The NSF Dietary Supplements Certification Program helps credibility for manufacturers by verifying to consumers that they have been independently tested and certified. The NSF program requires formulation reviews, plant audits and laboratory testing to verify conformance to NSF Draft American National Standard 173-Dietary Supplements. The standard, developed through a consensus process with input from dietary supplements manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, health care practitioners and public health officials, provides methodology and evaluation criteria for verifying dietary supplements' ingredients; testing them for specific undeclared contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins; and assuring conformance to Good Manufacturing Practices. Certified products bear the NSF mark on their labels. "Combining our 57-year testing and certification experience with NNFA's GMP expertise will enable us to offer dietary supplements manufacturers and ingredient suppliers the most comprehensive certification program available,"said Ray Jaglowski, NSF International's vice president of new business development.