NFM's Angela Cortez talks with Daniel Fabricant, interim CEO and executive director of the Natural Products Association in Washington, D.C.
Q: What issues are facing the NPA?
A: The economy aside, there are certainly regulatory challenges and legislative challenges in the present and likely in the future for the industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears to be reenergized. And with new money in the agency's coffers, it is planning to conduct a significant number of good manufacturing practice inspections and look at other records in the process. So a large portion of our job is to, either through certification or education, work to ensure that manufacturing facilities are compliant and understand their regulatory vulnerability for matters like serious adverse-event reporting. [For more on AE reporting, go to naturalfoodsmerchandiser.com and click on "What You Need to Know About Adverse-Event Reporting."] We're an FDA-regulated industry, a tightly regulated one at that, but we still have our critics on Capitol Hill and in the media that want to see additional regulation. As we have always done, we are standing watch and are working diligently to advocate for the industry, as well as thwart any potential legislative threats to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
Q: How has NPA's vision evolved?
A: When we changed the name from the National Nutritional Foods Association to the Natural Products Association, the vision was that we would serve the entire natural products industry. With initiatives like the Natural Standard for beauty care, we've come out of the gate strong toward realizing that vision. Supplements will always be our base, but there are a number of other concerns we'd like to address in both the organic and natural sectors.
Q: What has been the response to the Natural Standard?
A: It's been tremendous. Many in the industry viewed it as something that had to be done. I think we're being looked at to do more in other areas and provide additional standards for other market sectors. You can rest assured that any new standards will be tough—ones that have credibility but also consider the nature of the market and strike the proper balance between the two. Given our track record with the standard for personal care, there are some similarities that may make it easy to address a natural standard for home care products, like cleaners, in the near future.
Q: What qualities must the new executive director bring to the job?
A: With the challenges ahead, we as an industry have to be involved in the political process, which means that it is more important than ever to belong to a trade association, meet with your elected officials, and donate to fundraisers and political action committees. There is a saying in D.C. that if you're not at the table you might be on the table, so this is something that the new executive director will need to instill in the industry.
Q: What does the future of naturals look like?
A: We'll continue to thrive. Consumers have spoken and they want quality natural products. As technology continues to expand, more personal care and home care products will be available that will actually outperform their mainstream, synthetic-derived counterparts. More supplement clinical trials are being conducted than ever before, so the consumer will become more knowledgeable about health benefits through good science. Having strong science behind dietary ingredients has really shaped the market and will continue to in the future.