CRN issues marketing guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplement products

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition last week issued recommended guidelines for caffeine-containing dietary supplement products, expanding its self-regulatory initiatives that encourage best practices within the supplement industry. 

“These recommendations go beyond what is required by law, but our member companies, along with the conventional beverage industry, recognize that consumers would benefit by having information that lets them know how much caffeine is in the products they choose to take,” stated Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN. “This is one example of how responsible companies in our industry are taking proactive steps to educate consumers so they can make informed decisions about caffeine-containing supplements, and we trust consumers will be mindful of the amounts of caffeine they are getting from all sources.” 

According to a DSN report posted last month, a group of doctors and public health professors petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to place stronger regulations on energy drinks out of concerns of high caffeine consumption. In a letter the group noted that energy drinks are projected to reach $19.7 billion in sales this year and that, according to an FDA-commissioned study from 2010, 65% of the people consuming them are ages 13 years to 35 years. 

The new CRN guidelines focus on five core areas: disclosure of total caffeine content from both added and naturally occurring sources of caffeine; label advisories for conditions of use; serving size and daily intake recommendations; restraints against marketing in combination with alcohol; and implementation for product labels.

The guidelines call on manufacturers to disclose on the product label the total amount of caffeine, from both natural sources like green tea extract, coffee bean extract, guarana or yerba mate, as well as added caffeine. In addition to the recommendation for label disclosure of total caffeine content, the guidelines recommend that products with a total caffeine content of more than 100 mg per serving include label advisories for children, those sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women, and those with a medical condition or taking medication. 

“The guidelines are not intended to be rigid or compulsory for the industry, but rather to give firms a model of how to communicate with their consumers about these products," Mister noted. "Companies looking to do the right thing can adopt these flexible recommendations for developing their own product labels.” 

The guidelines are effective April 1, 2013, with a recommended implementation time of 12 months, allowing companies sufficient time to comply with the guidelines for new product labels put into the market.

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