CRN and NAD Continue Commitment to Self-Regulatory Efforts for Dietary Supplement Advertising as the CRN/NAD Program Ends

For Immediate Release 

Washington, D.C., May 12, 2020—The Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF) and the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division (NAD) announced today that the CRN/NAD program will conclude on July 1, 2020. Launched in 2006, the CRN/NAD program has served as a key self-regulatory initiative to monitor and promote truthful and accurate advertising for the dietary supplement industry, closing more than 360 cases.  

Federal Trade Commissioners and FTC staff have supported the program as “an excellent example of self-regulation” that has helped to serve consumers for 15 years. The unique and effective ad-monitoring and peer-to-peer process conducted by NAD has encouraged cooperation and allowed companies the opportunity to voluntarily change non-compliant behavior before facing potentially serious consequences from the FTC and other law enforcement agencies. Each monitoring case or challenge provides advertisers a written decision explaining the review with instruction and guidance for future advertising if changes are needed.  

“Though the CRN/NAD program has come to its end, our partnership with NAD continues,” said Megan Olsen, vice president & associate general counsel, CRN. “The responsible dietary supplement industry recognizes the role truthful and accurate advertising plays in leveling the playing field for honest advertisers and in providing consumers with accurate information about products they rely on to improve their health and wellness.” 

Laura Brett, Vice President of NAD agreed and said, “We appreciate CRN’s leadership in supporting truthful and transparent advertising for the dietary supplement industry. Our partnership highlights the value that independent and voluntary advertising self-regulation can bring in promoting fair competition in industries that are evolving and rapidly changing.”   

CRN encourages the responsible industry to stay vigilant of suspect advertising and consider filing challenges against companies making egregious claims in the dietary supplement marketplace. Filing a challenge with NAD is a lower cost option than litigation and typically moves much faster than a court decision. Further encouraging responsible industry, NAD has developed the Fast-Track SWIFT (Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track) program to provide companies with an even faster method to address particular advertising challenges. Examples of challenges that may be eligible for the SWIFT program include those in which the material connection between an influencer and advertiser is not disclosed; those with content that looks editorial but is really an advertisement; misleading sales and pricing claims; and simple express claims. 

“CRN and NAD’s dietary supplement advertising review program has played a key role in self-regulatory efforts and has contributed to creating a marketplace that consumers and industry can trust,” said Ms. Olsen. “Responsible industry’s participation has been critical to the program’s success in the past and we urge companies to remain supportive of NAD’s continued role and file challenges against companies making unsubstantiated or deceptive advertising claims. CRN, NAD, and its members recognize the impressive achievements of the program over the past 15 years and its role in supporting the dietary supplement industry and consumers,” said Ms. Olsen.  

Kat Dunnigan, Senior Attorney at NAD who led the CRN program for the last 8 years concurred, “We feel confident about the progress made to date and the future of truthful, accurate, and evidence-based advertising in this space.” Examples of these achievements include the following: 

  • The program is responsible for creating over 300 decisions involving a range of dietary supplement claims, from more traditional claims for the industry, such as claims about weight loss, sports performance, heart disease, and cold and flu prevention, to less common, but still important health benefit claims, such as those about sun protection, breast feeding, sexual dysfunction, tinnitus, computer eye strain, and those seeking the courage to speak publicly.   
  • Under the program, company-to-company competitor challenges also have dramatically risen – putting other watchdogs on the case, not just CRN and NAD.  

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