I will never forget the extraordinary industry efforts that went into the passage of DSHEA, 20 years ago. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers all worked together for the common cause of defending health freedoms. I remember the entire industry gathered at a fund raising event at the NNFA Show in Las Vegas and it was standing room only in a crowded ballroom.
To this day, I have never seen the entire industry united around a common cause like we were then. In my 40-year career in the health food industry, I have never seen more passion for fighting for our industry since the industry was literally facing obliteration by Congress. Retailers were actively getting their customers to write letters or send faxes to members of Congress. This effort led to the second-largest letter writing campaign that Congress has ever experienced next to the Vietnam War.
Talk about making an impact!
The industry also organized a supplement black out day where health food stores draped black sheets over vitamin sections and explained to customers that they would not be able to purchase vitamins unless they took action to write members of Congress. At that time, I was managing health food stores and I can tell you this had a big impact on my customers.
In Chicago, NOW Foods provided bus transportation for hundreds of members of the industry and health food customers to protest at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago. This campaign brought much awareness to the problem (and coverage in the Chicago press ) our industry was facing and showed how much consumers wanted to continue to purchase safe supplements.
The passage of DSHEA was the major milestone for the health food industry that shaped the course of the health food industry and the framework of regulatory compliance to this day.
As I look back, it was the most exciting time to be in our industry; we achieved such incredible unity. It also serves as an example to this day of what we can achieve if we work together and join forces to advocate for our industry and consumer health freedom.
Currently, only 1 in 8 industry companies are members of the Natural Products Association and many industry members are not part of any trade association. In the light of the ongoing media war on vitamins, I urge industry members to get involved and join our trade associations in defending our industry.