What is the Supplement OWL?
The Supplement OWL® (Online Wellness Library)—the dietary supplement product registry—is an industry-wide, self-regulatory initiative that will help create a rich and more complete picture of the marketplace for regulators, retailers, and industry. The Supplement OWL will serve as a resource for these audiences to identify products, their ingredients and the companies who market them, and permit registry users to examine and evaluate labels and other product information.
Who is behind the Supplement OWL?
The Supplement OWL is a self-regulatory project of the dietary supplement industry. Individual companies and their trade associations in the industry are working together to create a product registry that will help increase transparency and accountability in the marketplace. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry, is spearheading the effort by providing the initial funding and conceptual project management. UL, a global independent safety science company, is investing funding in the development and administration of the registry and the technology that will drive this database.
In October 2017, an advisory board was appointed. The Supplement OWL Advisory Board is comprised of stakeholders from all corners of the supplement industry and provides a forum to discuss the forward progress of the OWL.
What kind of information will be in the Supplement OWL?
The Supplement OWL will have two tiers of information. Participation in Tier 1 is free. Tier 1 will include an image of the product, a complete product label and various fields of information about the product such as ingredients, dosage form, product claims from the label and contact information. Tier 1 is available online for viewing by anyone who wants to search the Supplement OWL. (Companies submitting their labels will also be required to provide manufacturing and packaging facility contact information, which will be accessible only to FDA, the regulatory body that oversees dietary supplement labeling. Industry will provide this confidential information to regulators to foster transparency; however, this information is generally considered confidential and therefore will not be made public.)
Tier 2 allows companies to upload additional information and supporting documents about quality practices for their products for a nominal fee. This information will be controlled by the product marketer and only those entities with permission from the marketer will be able to view these materials. Companies can submit labels to Tier 1 now and decide later whether they also want to participate in the Tier 2.
Who can use the Supplement OWL?
The Supplement OWL is intended primarily as a tool for regulators and other stakeholders who want to learn more about products, their contents and their labeling information. While anyone with an internet connection may access Tier 1 of the Supplement OWL, the Supplement OWL is not intended to be a marketing tool to consumers, nor is it a place where consumers can shop for supplement products. The Supplement OWL was created by the industry as a self-regulatory tool to provide a more complete understanding of the supplement marketplace and the range of products and ingredients. Although primarily for regulators, it is anticipated that retailers, the industry itself and other stakeholders will also find great value in the Supplement OWL.
When will companies be able to put their product labels into the Supplement OWL and when will it be available to the public?
The Supplement OWL went live—i.e., available for anyone with internet access—on April 27, 2017, and can be accessed directly here. The Supplement OWL has been accepting labels since January 2017. Companies industry-wide are encouraged to put their labels in and UL is ready to help you get started.