How to ensure your contract manufacturer is adhering to best practices


Consumers are bombarded with news about product recalls—often for cars, children’s toys, or food. The dietary supplement industry isn’t immune to this problem either. Earlier this year, one company had to issue a full recall of organic capsules due to gluten contamination. There was also a recent recall of gummy vitamins due to the presence of metallic mesh left in the product from the manufacturing process.

With recalls being frequently issued, it can be daunting for organizations that want to bring new supplements to market. One product recall can destroy a company’s hard-earned reputation. The good news is that you can protect your brand by making certain that your contract manufacturer is adhering to best practices, processes, and procedures.

Taking Products from Idea to Marketplace

When introducing a new supplement, it is important to realize that manufacturing a product is just one piece of the puzzle. Steps must be taken throughout the entire process to ensure quality control, beginning with ingredient selection for your new product.

As a hot new ingredient grows in popularity, it is not uncommon for the raw materials market to become flooded with cheap imitations. These knockoff ingredients may appear to be a bargain, but they may be of poor quality, diluted, or even counterfeit. The only way to tell is by applying rigorous science to the ingredient selection and vetting process.

In order for a supplement manufacturer or marketer to protect its own reputation, ingredients should be sourced only from equally reputable vendors. And this is just the first step. Even when working with trusted suppliers, it is critical that manufacturers conduct a detailed review of supporting documents and perform full analytical testing of ingredients to verify their authenticity, identity, potency, and purity. Thorough testing assures that ingredients—and your product—will not contain any hidden adulterants, contaminants, or undeclared allergens.

Regulatory Compliance

Another key to avoiding recalls is certifying that the product meets all regulatory compliance standards. When introducing nutritional supplements to the market, it is important for your manufacturer to be well versed on regulatory requirements, both domestic and foreign. The manufacturer should be able to provide its customers with supporting documentation to ensure that products will comply with the regulations in their intended market. This documentation includes full product specifications, nutritional information, certificates of free sale, and regulatory statements.

Supplement Labeling

Unintentional mislabeling is another problem area for supplement marketers. The product label is the first thing consumers will see, and all statements on that label must be accurate and truthful.

Experienced contract manufacturers will review their customers’ labels for accuracy and to confirm that they are in compliance with regulatory requirements. It is important to note that if information is missing or misplaced on a label, it could lead to a regulatory or civil action down the road, so it pays to engineer precision into your labels on the front end. A reputable contract manufacturer will also work with clients to make sure that only the most updated, approved label versions are used and that all obsolete versions are destroyed per FDA requirements.

Protecting Your Brand and Reputation

From the idea stage to product formulation and labeling, the main priority for the supplement marketer should be to protect its brand and reputation. All necessary steps should be taken to protect your business from making avoidable mistakes that could lead to class action lawsuits or problems with retailers. That is why you should always partner with a contract manufacturer that places special emphasis on regulatory compliance and proper labeling. Such a partnership will pay dividends in giving you peace of mind when you bring your new product to market.

About the author

Rick Handel is senior vice president of commercial operations at Vitaquest International LLC.

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