DSQI Launches Unique Quality Survey
8 August 2003
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor
Snow, executive editor of the Dietary Supplement Quality Initiative,
today announced the introduction of a new on-line survey on the
DSQI website, SupplementQuality.com. The survey, directed at supplement
users, scrutinizes the quality of specific dietary supplements from
alanine to zinc, closing a gap left by major supplement quality
survey, while subjective and partly anecdotal, nevertheless allows
individual consumers to use uniform grading scales to comment freely
on their level of satisfaction with particular supplements. Aggregated
survey data makes it possible to discern broad trends in consumer
preference and related opinion. Survey results are immediately available
to registered visitors to the SupplementQuality.com site. Once a
substantial amount of consumer data is gathered, these results will
survey will allow individual consumers as well as interested individuals
and organizations to gain immediate access to information on supplement
preference and satisfaction by brand, product name, or type.
on quality of brands is difficult to find
on the new service, Snow said, "Investigating the quality of specific
products is challenging. There are about 1500 manufacturers and
repackagers of dietary supplements in the US, many offering hundreds
of products. A repackager is a company that buys a supplement from
a different manufacturer and then markets this product under its
own brand label. Most store brands, CVS being one example, fall
into this category. The end result is hundreds of thousands of individual
products in the marketplace."
date, consumer preference data on supplement quality has been limited
to marketing surveys done privately by manufacturers and marketers,
and therefore is not available to the public.
the four main certifying organizations, all operate with limited
resources and must focus on what they do best. Thus, ConsumerLab.com
tests only the major brands of the few dozen most popular supplements.
Three other organizations conduct inspections of manufacturing plants
for compliance with good manufacturing practices: NSF International
the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA),
and the US Pharmacopoeia (USP).
Both NSF and USP also conduct individual product testing. However
inspection and testing programs cover no more than several dozen
major manufacturers. (See our story on Four
Quality Certifying Programs.)
other brands, consumers are left in the dark
wondering about smaller companies or products outside the "most
popular" categories have had no resources for discovering an unbiased
assessment of quality. Nonetheless, among the 20,000+ visitors to
the SupplementQuality.com website in a typical month, many ask about
the quality of their favorite brands of dietary supplements. Often,
these brands, products, or manufacturers are not among those tested
by ConsumerLab or inspected by NSF International, NNFA or USP.
searching the web, SupplementQuality.com found no additional resources
for making a widespread assessment of which brands and products
are the bestor the worstin the marketplace, and therefore
decided to launch its own survey of dietary supplement quality.
Now, consumers can share their own knowledge and experiences with
specific brands of supplements, both good and bad.
creates useful guideline
though a survey of user experience is not scientific in the sense
of laboratory testing of particular products, the aggregated data
will aid consumers in making judgments about which companies and
products represent superior value. People who participate in the
survey can gain immediate information about the experiences of other
survey design includes several features that minimize the ability
of supplement manufacturers to participate in the survey themselves
and thereby skew the results. And the more consumers who participate,
the smaller the impact of any such attempts to distort a product's
this survey is a mutual-help program for consumers, allowing them
to benefit from the knowledge and experiences of other consumers.
By putting unbiased, objective, noncommercial information into the
hands of people who use dietary supplements, this survey highlights
which companies, brands and products are preferred by consumers.
notes, "This Dietary Supplement Quality Opinion Survey is unique.
There is nothing else even remotely like it on the Web."