Supplement OWL is a product registry that aims to make the nutritional supplement industry more transparent by creating an online database of product labels. Here’s our review.
What Is Supplement OWL?
Supplement OWL – which stands for Online Wellness Library – is an online database for nutritional supplement manufacturers and their customers. The database is preparing to launch to the general public in April 2017 after through beta testing over the last few months.
The goal of Supplement OWL is to enhance transparency in the nutritional supplement industry by giving supplement manufacturers an easy way to post labels online.
Over the past few months of beta testing, Supplement OWL was working with 9 nutritional supplement companies – including GNC and Herbs, etc. – to refine their labeling process.
Today, now that Supplement OWL is available to the public, the website is allowing manufacturers to input labels into the product registry. Nutritional supplement organizations like the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) are now encouraging members to input labels through the system – so clearly, Supplement OWL has the backing of at least some members of the supplement industry.
The website is seen as a way to enhance transparency and honesty in an industry that sorely needs it. It will give supplement users an easy place to check to see unbiased information about their favorite supplements.
How Does Supplement OWL Work?
Supplement OWL has two tiers. The first tier offers basic product information for free. That tier is available to any company willing to supply the required information about its products. The tier is available online at no charge to the public.
On the first tier, you’ll be able to access important information about the supplement in question, including product details, ingredients, brand name, allergen statements, the number of servings, and more.
Supplement manufacturers on tier 1 will also be required to provide manufacturing and packaging facility contact information. However, this information won’t be accessible to the general public that visits Supplement OWL. Instead, it’s only accessible to the FDA. Companies on tier 1 will also be given a unique product identifier for each supplement.
Tier 2 is currently in development. Supplement OWL is working with nutritional supplement organizations like CRN to develop tier 2. Ion tier 2, companies will be able to pay a nominal fee to have greater control over supplement information available online.
Why Is Supplement OWL Important?
Clearly, supplement manufacturers are jumping on board with Supplement OWL, and feel there’s a need for a unified registry of nutritional supplement labels. Why is Supplement OWL so important to the industry?
Industry blog nutraingredients-USA.com recently wrote an article about Supplement OWL, where they quoted Duffy MacKay, ND, Sr VP of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at CRN, who said that creating Supplement OWL has been a community effort:”
“The idea is born out of multiple industry groups with shared values, each having the same conversation independent of one another,” he told attendees at a recent conference. “Similar conversations were occurring inside and outside of CRN and, coincidentally, each of these groups came to the same conclusions.”
Dr. MacKay concluded by stating that “This industry needs to step up its self-regulatory efforts and a finished product registry is an obvious place to start.”
Dr. MacKay and the CRN team see Supplement OWL as a smart way to rebuild some of the trust that has been lost in the industry since 2015, when regulators increasingly clamped down on the nutritional supplement industry.
“We need to make it easier for retailers and consumers to evaluate products, and easily find legitimate, quality dietary supplements. To do this, we have built a dietary supplement finished product registry.”
Dr. MacKay added that this was the best way “to get rid of bad actors that ignore the law” in the industry.
What Kind Of Information Can You Learn From Supplement OWL?
As mentioned above, there are two tiers to Supplement OWL. Details of the second tier have not yet been released, since it’s actively in development. However, the first tier is available to the public for free. Here are some of the things you can learn by accessing Supplement OWL through the first tier:
- A complete product label
- Image of the product
- Ingredients and dosage form
- Product claims from the label
- Contact information for the supplement manufacturer
All of the above information will be accessible to the general public. However, manufacturers who participate in the tier 1 program will also need to privately disclose additional information to Supplement OWL, including manufacturing and facility contact information.
This information will only be accessible by the FDA, which is the primary regulatory body in charge of the dietary supplement industry.
The future of tier 2 isn’t totally certain. However, the Supplement OWL website explains that tier 2 will allow companies to upload additional information and supporting documents about their products “for a nominal fee”. Manufacturers who participate in tier 2 will have full control over the product and the materials, including which materials are viewable to different people.
Supplement manufacturers can submit information to Supplement OWL’s tier 1 now, and then decide whether or not they want to participate in tier 2 in the future.
Supplement OWL Release Date
Supplement OWL will be available to the general public – anyone with internet access – starting in April 2017.
You can visit the website online today at SupplementOWL.org to learn more. Nutritional supplement manufacturers can also fill out information to registry in Supplement OWL’s tier 1 or tier 2 programs.
Watch for Supplement OWL to have a major impact on the nutritional supplement industry starting in April 2017.