Supplement Recall Creates Bad Press for Health Industry

Meagan Douglas
Mon, Mar 28, 2016
Consumers want to trust the labeling on supplements.
Consumers want to trust the labeling on supplements.

Health is a primary concern for consumers who purchase meal supplements and other nutritional products. Many of these items advertise their all-natural ingredients and simple manufacturing processes to attract the eye of people wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. In their rush to stand out in an ever-growing marketplace, businesses may exaggerate the benefits of their products or lose sight of their inventory management policies.

One such company found the possibility of a harmful contaminant in its supply chain and had to quickly recall several products from the market. CNN reported Garden of Life RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal merchandise was linked to 11 cases of salmonella infection. This is a recent example for why this industry must prioritize inventory management to provide the safety and health benefits its consumers demand.

Supplement Recalls
People affected by the salmonella outbreak live in in New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, Ohio, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin. The individuals claimed to have consumed Garden of Life shakes shortly before their symptoms began. The possible culprits include supplement and meal replacement powders in original, chocolate and vanilla flavors.

Garden of Life was able to trace the possibly affected products to certain lots. It shared relevant information with regulators and the public to perform the recall and protect consumers. While the company urges customers to return merchandise that might be suspect, Garden of Life leaders were quick to point out the products were inspected before they were shipped to consumers and no salmonella was detected.

The supplement and meal replacement powders are manufactured in a facility monitored by the Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. It's possible contamination occurred at a later stage in the supply chain or there is a problem with the screening process, either way, Garden of Life depends on its quality procedures and quick response to the recall to demonstrate its commitment to consumer health.

Exaggerating Health Claims
Some companies may be quick to make amends when the the quality of their products don't match the label. Less scrupulous companies, however, make a practice of being misleading in their marketing.

The New York Times shared 2015 accusations from the New York Attorney's General Office claiming many supplement manufacturers don't include the ingredients listed on the label. Packaging may promise St. John's Wort, but actually contain garlic, rice and dracaena - and no wort. Consumers don't always notice the absence of ingredients because of a lack of flavor and uncertainty about health benefits. The relatively revolutionary nature of the natural supplement industry makes it easy for businesses to make outstanding claims, because not all consumers are sure what they should expect from the effects of new products.

When goods have no effect it's bad enough, but sometimes unlisted ingredients can be harmful. The Bottom Line Health blog shared examples of unadvertised additives in health products that may trigger allergies or act as laxatives. A lack of honesty and transparency means customers consume harmful products they may not recognize. Also, when manufacturers choose to play ignorant, it may help contaminants find their way into the supply chain.

Putting Consumers' Health First
If businesses want to establish a lasting relationship with consumers, they must share their priorities. Dietary supplement manufacturers must secure their supply chain to ensure the final product that reaches their customers is as healthy and safe as the organization claims.

An RFgen customer case study detailed how a supplement and vitamin distributor, Life Extension, ensured it was a secure link in the supply chain by implementing automated data collection solutions. Life Extension wanted control and traceability in its warehouse management procedures, so it acquired RFgen Mobile Foundations for Oracle's JD Edwards. Thanks to the RFgen solution, the company sped up processes while collecting the data it needed to monitor operations, report quality and comply with safety best practices.

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