Dietary supplement manufacturers must comply with good manufacturing practices established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and often rely on third-party auditors to help them verify and comply with those standards. SSCI plays a role in establishing a minimum set of requirements for all certifying bodies and certification program owners with the ultimate goal of harmonization with global requirements for supplements.
SSCI was the focus of a panel discussion led by Dadrion Gaston, senior director of Corporate Ethics & Compliance for Walmart, during this week’s American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Dietary Supplements Standardization Coordination Meeting.
Walmart is one of the retailers currently incorporating the SSCI standards, which imposes a set of guidelines on nutritional supplement manufacturers sold in its stores or on its website.
“We’re proud to bring together the best experts from the leading supplement companies to examine everything from auditor training, qualification, and the way audits are conducted,” said Gaston.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Natural Products Association (NPA).
“SSCI is the only comprehensive program to provide end-to-end transparency in the natural products supply chain,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, NPA’s president and CEO. “We created a system understanding that the FDA can’t solve all our problems. We set out to demonstrate to consumers and regulators that they can have confidence in the industry, and SSCI is the way we are going to achieve that.”
ANSI hosted the panel to identify opportunities to advance safety, quality, and trust in the dietary supplements supply chain, particularly through voluntary consensus standards and related conformity assessment programs. Walmart’s Gaston was joined by Randy Slikkers, Global Retailer and Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA) CEO, and Michael Finamore, President, GRMA Governance Board and CEO of Gemini Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
SSCI has received broad support from across the industry. Steve Mister, president & CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), expressed his association’s support the initiative, and commended the project’s mission to create a single benchmark for supplement supply chain audit standards in an effort to harmonize these standards for dietary supplement manufacturers.
“SSCI is a great example of industry self-regulation combined with collaboration between retailers and manufacturers to create efficiencies in the audit process and to increase consumer confidence in the industry and its products,” said Mister.
“CRN expects industry to recognize the importance of aligning audit initiatives and looks forward to SSCI collaborating with other groups with similar goals, such as the Global Retailers and Manufacturers Alliance (GRMA). We’re hopeful that groups like SSCI and GRMA will work together to standardize and improve audit processes and create consistent, compatible and efficient solutions that best serve all aspects of the industry.”
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) issued the following statement: “CHPA is pleased to support the Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative (SSCI) and commends the project’s mission to enhance safety, authenticity, and compliance throughout the supply chain while minimizing audit redundancy.
“We are optimistic that SSCI can provide a forum for productive collaboration between retailers, manufacturers, and other standard-setting initiatives and organizations, creating efficiencies in the audit process and increasing consumer confidence in the dietary supplement industry’s products.
“CHPA recognizes the need for standardization and efficiency across initiatives to ensure product quality and compliance with regulations. We look forward to participating in harmonization efforts, such as SSCI, as these initiatives move forward.”
The key objectives for SSCI are:
• Create effective global systems to ensure traceability, transparency & quality in the supply chain
• Reduce risks by ensuring equivalence between safety management systems
• Drive global change through benchmarking of domestic & international standards
• Eliminate redundancy in certification, improve operational efficiency & costs
• Provide a unique stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing & networking
“Our benchmarking guidance documents will unify and promote supply chain quality and provide a unique stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking,” said Guru Ramanathan, PhD, chief innovation officer & senior vice president for GNC, when the benchmarking documents were released at the end of March.