Industry Pioneer Milton Bass Dies

November 1, 2000

2 Min Read
Industry Pioneer Milton Bass Dies


Industry Pioneer Milton Bass Dies

NEW YORK--In early October, the industry lost a pioneer in the dietarysupplement industry when attorney Milton Bass was killed in an automobileaccident in Connecticut. He was 79.

Bass spent much of his professional career focusing on food and drug law,working on issues that concerned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FederalTrade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice. He battled FDA so thatdietary supplement retailers could take mail order sales and that thesesupplements and their ingredients could be imported into the United States withthe benefit of due process.

"He was a very principled man, and he was not a compromiser," saidGerald Kessler, chief executive officer of Natural Organics. "Milt wasreally the father of our industry."

Bob Ullman, a partner in New York's Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, worked withBass for almost 40 years. "The man had a passion for the law and vastintellectual capabilities," he said. "He loved the challenge and wasable to take on a cause through the highest courts."

Bass also worked for 10 years lobbying, assisting with negotiations andpromoting grassroots activism to pass 1976's Proxmire Amendments, whichguaranteed access to vitamin supplements.

"Milton Bass was one of the great champions for the natural healthmovement," said Jon Benninger, group publisher at Virgo Publishing."His dedication and spirit have been an inspiration to me since I firstjoined this industry, and I will miss him."

"Milt would take a stance even if it hurt him, even if it hurt his lawfirm," Kessler said. "If he felt that [the case] was right, he wouldtake that stance, and that's what I admired and tried to do in my life. Milt didit gracefully and he did it very often."

This past July, Bass was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, givenby the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA); in fact, into the 1990s,Bass served as co-counsel for the association. NNFA's executive director andchief executive officer, David Seckman, had only met Bass when he presented himthe award, but he left a lasting impression on the director. "He has alwaysbeen a staunch defender of the rights of both retailers and manufacturers topresent their views and sell their products," Seckman said. "He trulydid have a lifetime of achievement and will be greatly missed."

Ullman added that Bass truly appreciated the NNFA award. "It was nicethat he was remembered by the industry while he was still around," he said.

A memorial service was held Oct. 11 in New York City. Donations on Bass'behalf can be made to a memorial fund with the Metropolitan Opera Association at(212) 870-7388.

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