What does a 'seal of approval' mean?

Because there isn't a government agency that tests, analyzes or rates dietary supplements, consumers are often left wondering which product is best. To differentiate themselves from other supplement manufacturers, some companies will pay for an independent organization to inspect their products and facilities for quality purposes. This is generally referred to as independent, or third party, certification.

Each of the following organizations offers a "seal of approval" that may be displayed on dietary supplement labels or their manufacturing websites:

  • U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention
  • NSF International
  • ConsumerLab.com

A seal of approval from one of these organizations doesn't mean the product is safe or effective. It just means the product has passed the organization's quality tests, such as proper manufacture, verification that the ingredients listed on the label are actually in the product and that they don't contain harmful contaminants.

NSF International also has an NSF's Certified for Sport Program that is helpful to athletes and other people who use sports supplements. The Certified for Sport Program helps protect against the adulteration of products, making sure the products haven't been spiked with undeclared ingredients such as steroids or prescription drugs. Products that contain the "NSF Certified for Sport" logo are screened for 165 substances banned by most major athletic organizations. In addition, the company's manufacturing facility is thoroughly audited.

Aug. 04, 2016 See more In-depth