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Inaccurate meta-analyses cause dietary supplement industry to take a hit

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Calcium causes heart attacks! Vitamin E kills! Vitamin D makes your eyeballs explode! OK, the last headline was just made up, but these are the kind of B-movie headlines many of these inaccurate meta-analyses generate, especially across the dietary supplement industry.

(THE NEWS: Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Association respond to British Medical Journal meta-analysis. For the full story, click here.)

That means these stories should be of little importance. The problem is, the lay press and general public don’t know that. A few years back when one of these meta-analyses suggested people who supplement with vitamin E have a greater chance of dying, the category took a 30% hit. And when that particular meta-analysis was faulted by fellow researchers as having bigger holes than a doughnut, the story already had dropped to page eight in the lay press. By then, the damage already had been done. The general public never really caught wind of the fact that it was safe, even healthy, to supplement their diets with vitamin E again.

What IS important is the fact that both the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association started reaching out to the press the same day this story hit the wires, and consequently before those B-movie headlines would have been created. Sales of all vitamins totaled $6.5 billion for the 52 weeks ended March 19 across all channels, including Walmart, according to the Nielsen Group, and are growing at a rate of 3.6%. The allocation to supplements like calcium and vitamin D products run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And CRN and NPA were on hand to help set the record straight before these popular supplements were unjustly maligned.

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Report: Stop & Shop to implement mobile shopping app

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — About one month after launching a mobile application that syncs customers’ loyalty cards to provide access to online accounts, Stop & Shop is forging ahead with new technology, according to published reports.

Three Stop & Shop stores in the Boston area on Monday will launch a software app from Modiv Media that allows customers with iPhones (iPhone 3GS or higher) to scan grocery items and add them to an electronic shopping cart, the Boston Globe reported. Modiv Media plans to offer an app that runs on Google’s Android operating system later this year.

How it works: By aiming the phone’s camera at the bar code on a product package, the customer can see the price and add it to an electronic shopping cart. Once shopping is done, the app relays the information to a checkout register, where the customer can pay with cash or a credit card. The app speeds up the checkout process by eliminating the need for a store employee to manually scan the items.

Modiv Media already offers the same service through handheld self-checkout scanners found in 350 supermarkets in the United States, including local Stop & Shop outlets.

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Sergeant’s introduces generic flea, tick treatments

BY Allison Cerra

OMAHA, Neb. — Sergeant’s Pet Care Products will be launching generic versions of popular flea and tick topical treatments next month.

The company said that its generic versions of Frontline Plus, FiproGuard Plus and Pronyl OTC Plus will hit retail in May, providing pet owners with a lower-cost option to keep pets healthy.

"Lower cost means more pets will be protected from the dangers fleas and ticks present," Sergeant’s president and CEO Bob Scharf said. "For more than 140 years, Sergeant’s has been a trusted, reliable source of products to improve and protect pets’ health. These products are one of the many innovative flea and tick products from Sergeant’s. Retailers and consumers are very excited about this addition."

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