Industry guidance helps dietary supplement manufacturers understand compliance requirements of the organic market

SAN DIEGO, Calif., and SILVER SPRING, Md. — QAI (Quality Assurance International), a leading certifier of organic products, and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), a national trade association that promotes the responsible commerce of herbal products, released industry guidance on the formulation and marketing of organic dietary supplements under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

This guidance document discusses the types of supplements that are eligible for organic certification under the NOP. It provides an overview of the organic and manufacturing rules that must be met from the farm to the packaged product.

The market for products cultivated, processed and labeled as organic in accordance with the NOP has grown steadily over the last few years, based on consumer demand for products that are natural and free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. U.S. sales of organic dietary supplements were reported at $739 million in 2011, an increase of 8.5 percent over the prior year1.   In addition, U.S. equivalency agreements with Canada and the European Union, which allow trade of organic products with few restrictions, are creating market and sourcing opportunities for organic dietary supplements.

The guidance document also highlights what is involved with the organic certification process, common organic certification issues for dietary supplement manufacturers, production methods for allowed ingredients, and technical additives and processing aids.

“Our goal is to educate the dietary supplements industry with an easy-to-understand overview of organic certification that explains how the NOP food-based requirements apply to dietary supplement products and ingredients,” says QAI General Manager Jaclyn Bowen. “Our experts truly understand the in-depth rules of organic compliance needed to meet NOP regulations, and can guide companies as they develop and market organically-labeled dietary supplements in the U.S.”

“We created this resource to help the herbal supplements industry take advantage of the growing demand for organic products,” says AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “The herbal and botanical supplement industry faces a number of unique challenges that should be considered when deciding whether to enter the organic marketplace. AHPA’s role as the voice of the herbal products industry and QAI’s 23 years of experience in organic certification position them perfectly to provide guidance specifically tailored to supplement companies that want to formulate and market organic products.”

NOP regulations were developed for the food industry as a result of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Dietary supplement products that contain agricultural products grown and processed in accordance with the NOP may also be identified as organic. This includes products and ingredients such as raw agricultural herbs, herbal teas, extracts (powdered, liquid or dry), vitamins, minerals, tablets and capsules (hard-shell or soft-gelatin).

Depending on the percentage of organic content and production methods, products may bear the USDA organic seal and state the product is “100 percent organic” or “organic,” state the product is made with specific organic ingredients, or list certified organic ingredients on the ingredient panel. The QAI and AHPA guidance document details the requirements for each of these labeling options and provides examples of dietary supplements most likely to qualify for each category.

To download a free copy of the resource, Guidance on Formulation and Marketing of Organic Dietary Supplements Under the National Organic Program, visit  No personal information is required for the download.

About AHPA: The American Herbal Products Association is the national trade association for and the voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and botanical and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and non-prescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA's mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products.

About QAI (Quality Assurance International): Founded in 1989, QAI is the leading provider of organic certification services verifying organic integrity throughout the supply chain ( Additional certification services include gluten-free, kosher, natural personal care, social responsibility and food safety through its parent company NSF International. QAI remains dedicated to the environment, while providing educational outreach to the organic community, customers and consumers. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., the company has grown to include operations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Japan and the European Union.

About NSF International:  NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer products industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF International has been collaborating with the World Health Organization since 1997 in water quality and safety, food safety and indoor environments.

Media Contacts:
Greta Houlahan
QAI (Quality Assurance International)
(734) 913-5723

Haley Chitty
American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)
(301) 588.1171 x104

1Organic Trade Association, 2011 Organic Industry Survey.