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The Press is Part of the Political Game


by Celeste Sepessy -

Open up your paper (or browser), and you're likely to read dietary supplement headlines such as these:

--Herbal Supplements Are Often Not What They Seem

--So Many Supplements, So Little Regulation

--Maker pulls OxyElite Pro products linked to liver ills

With coverage like this, is it any wonder Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have their eyes on the dietary supplement industry?

As a member of the media, I'm here to tell you: The papers don't always get it right. (Though I'm sure you already knew that.)

By now, you've likely heard of the controversy over a newly published DNA barcoding study that found 59 percent of the products tested contained plant species not listed on the label. The study, originally published in BMC Medicine, was picked up by The New York Times and, well, the rest was sensationalized history.

The American Botanical Council (ABC), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) immediately jumped to the industry's defense with in-depth rebuttals. And Mark Blumenthal, ABC's executive director and founder, sent letters to the editor to set the record straight.  (Note: Be sure to check out INSIDER's recent video interview with Blumenthal on the best way to identify botanicals in the wake of the study).

Last week, PR veteran Suzanne Shelton urged industry members to get involved if they want to stay in business. And she's absolutely right, but don't stop at politics. Get involved with the media—yes, this means more than simple press releases—and represent your industry.

Consume your news frequently, as Blake Ebersole suggested in this month's Supplement Perspectives post. And when you see something that's not right, do something about it.

This is your battle to fight, so arm yourself with the data, the dossiers, and the debates necessary to spread the (correct) word about your products and your industry.

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