September 2021

· 2 min read

The Ultimate Trust: Vitamin and Personal Care Shoppers Expect Safe Products

New research finds that Americans hold retailers accountable for safety when shopping for vitamins and personal care products.
Woman shopping for vitamins and personal care products - Consumer Survey: Certified Supplements, Drugs and Personal Care Products | NSF

When we shop for vitamins, shampoo or lotion, what expectations do we have? We expect our products to be safe according to our new survey findings. While that’s not surprising, what might be is that when the products we purchase don’t hold up to safety and quality standards, we point the finger at the retailer.

NSF experts heard concerns from shoppers and decided to dig deeper. We commissioned an independent study of persons in 1,000 U.S. households about their shopping attitudes and to what degree they see retailers as partners in safety.

According to the research, most Americans believe manufacturing practices and ingredient safety are the retailer’s responsibility before products ever reach their shelves. For retailers, this means setting higher standards for the products they carry, standing behind products they sell and requiring brands to prove they've been independently certified.

At least 95% of consumers have concerns about the safety of dietary supplements, cosmetics and personal care products, the survey found. Still, only 48% said they research dietary supplement product claims themselves and just 39% said they research personal care product and over-the-counter (OTC) drug claims. In fact, 47% of Americans are more likely to research a movie they may want to see than to investigate the claims made on health and wellness products they might buy. Time-crunched, consumers are relying on retailers to screen out unsafe and low-quality products.

The results showed a growing push toward accountability for both brands and retailers. Many surveyed said the COVID-19 pandemic inspired them to be more vigilant about the safety of the products they buy at their local pharmacy or drug store.

The new study suggests Americans want retailers to go beyond what's required by law and verify that manufacturers complete independent manufacturing inspections. Currently, U.S. federal regulations require dietary supplement manufacturers to comply with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). Still, manufacturers are not required to provide proof of GMP compliance before shipping products.

But rest assured, some retailers are listening! Several major retailers and online shopping platforms have begun requiring brands and manufacturers to meet specific levels of quality assurance for the products they sell.

Where does that leave you, the consumer, in all this? We envision a future when our local pharmacy or drug store will require supplements, vitamins, personal care and OTC drugs they stock on their shelves to prove their product’s quality with independent verification, including inspections and testing.

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