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Guess Who’s Steering Your Shopping Cart — Why We Rely on Retailers to Help Us Shop Safely

Who’s steering your shopping cart? Our survey shows that consumers want retailers to maintain high safety standards for health and wellness products.

If you’re like me, you’re often in a rush when shopping for vitamins, makeup or decongestants to stave off a cold. Though I wish I could carefully scour labels, the truth is, I just don’t have the time. And it turns out I’m not alone in relying on the store or pharmacy to make sure the over-the-counter drugs I’m about to throw into my shopping cart are safe.

Call it the “stand by your shopping cart” movement, if you will. As consumers, we are the ones who are demanding that retailers meet high standards to guarantee that the vitamins, cosmetics and over-the-counter meds we buy are certified for safety.

That’s the good news from NSF researchers who posed a question to 1,000 shoppers about their grocery store and pharmacy shopping habits: Who do you think is responsible for making sure the products we put in our shopping carts are safe? The upshot: Retailers today can’t simply stock their shelves with over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, cosmetics, and bath and body products; they also need to stand behind them.

We’re seeing a trend across categories in the health and wellness sector — consumers increasingly want retailers to stand behind the products they sell.

NSF experts wanted to better understand how consumers are leaning on retailers to keep potentially harmful products out of their shopping carts. The survey results showed the following:

  • Safety first. 74% of shoppers prefer to shop ONLY at stores that have safety-tested vitamins, supplements, cosmetics and personal care products.
  • Tough vetting. 94% want retailers to go beyond what’s required by law and to visit, inspect and conduct their own due diligence audits of manufacturing facilities. In other words, consumers prefer that their products be certified.
  • Testing, testing. 85% of survey respondents said they expect retailers to test supplements and other health and wellness products for safety.
  • Buyer beware. Only 14% said “advertising on TV” helps build their trust in products. “Social media comments” and “celebrity endorsements” were identified as building trust by just 17% of consumers.
  • Regarding research. Almost half of respondents (47%) said they are more likely to research a Hollywood movie than the claims on health and wellness products.
  • When in doubt … Only 32% surveyed think retailers actually test products themselves.

“We're seeing a trend across categories in the health and wellness sector — consumers increasingly want retailers to stand behind the products they sell,” said David Trosin, Managing Director of Health Sciences Certification at NSF.

Certified products provide assurance to the consumer that there is no cross-contamination or inaccurate labeling and that quality control practices are in place at the manufacturing facility to help ensure sanitary conditions.

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