Additionally, the protocol, a cooperative effort between the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and the Natural Products Association (NPA), should lead to significant savings in time and money across the industry.
"It is so important to identify and properly qualify supplement ingredients from trustworthy sources," said Linda Suydam, president of CHPA. "This model protocol will help streamline this process and benefit the industry and its consumers."
The Standardized Information on Dietary Ingredients (SIDI), involves three standardized information sheets providing finished product manufacturers with key information about product information, site quality, and supply chain security.
Andrew Shao, CRN's vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, said: "All four of the supplement industry trade associations recognized there was a need to address this issue collectively and are committed to developing an effective process to help reduce mistakes and inaccurate information."
The trade associations envisage that the protocol will help eliminate inconsistent and inaccurate information, reduce mistakes, speed up information exchange, as well as providing a framework for suppliers to develop their own dietary ingredient information package, and eliminating the need to rely on questionnaires.
Ingredient suppliers are currently requested by finished product manufacturers to complete detailed questionnaires to determine whether or not to use a particular ingredient and from where it should be sourced. Such questionnaires vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and ingredient to ingredient, and are reported to lead to discrepancies and confusion.
"[The SIDI protocol] will represent a major paradigm shift for many in the industry by moving away from unique, individualized questionnaires towards standardized documentation and information exchange," said the trade associations in a statement.
"The trade associations and companies that have been involved in the intensive process believe the SIDI initiative is a more effective, efficient, forward-thinking approach to communicate between suppliers and finished product manufacturers to assure affordable quality products for consumers," said Dr. Shao.
It is also envisaged that the SIDI will benefit good manufacturing practices (GMPs). Indeed, Daniel Fabricant, vice president scientific affairs, Natural Products Association said: "This initiative will increase productivity and assist in understanding, analyzing, controlling, and documenting the manufacturing process all the way through the supply chain, which will be mandated when the GMPs are posted for dietary supplements."
Steven Dentali, AHPA's vice president of scientific and technical affairs confirmed that the protocol is applicable to the full range of ingredients, including vitamins, minerals and botanicals.
"Early on, we recognized that SIDI had to include a separate section to address botanical ingredients. This evolving document should save considerable time and effort for suppliers and manufactures alike," said Dentali.
The protocol is not intended to address every possible piece of information, nor is it compulsory. The trade associations will however strongly encourage companies to adhere to the protocol.
"If it is adopted and implemented industry-wide, manufacturers will have consistent, detailed information provided across multiple suppliers and their product lines," said the associations.
The first section of the protocol, Product Information Data, is now available at the web sites of the participating trade associations. The final two sections are under review and will be posted in the coming months.