By Priya Shahi & Vaidik Trivedi
A vitamins and nutritional supplement manufacturing company, Nature’s Bounty, will expand its current production sites on Long Island and plans to bring up to 200 jobs to Long Island this year.
The Ronkonkoma-based producer is scheduled to close a plant in Deerfield Beach, Florida in the coming months.
“This decision, part of the ongoing work to optimize our Supply Chain effort, was needed to increase efficiency– necessary in achieving our financial objectives and growth goals,” Nicole Hayes, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at Nature’s Bounty said.
The shift of work from Florida to Long Island is designed to streamline warehouse operations, so the company can be more cost efficient. The company also has strong ties to the Long Island community as it is headquartered in Ronkonkoma, and has two facilities running in Bohemia and Holbrook.
The Florida employees will receive a “severance package including outplacement assistance with finding new employment in the area,” Hayes said.
The vitamin industry has grown nationwide in recent years. Nearly 75 percent of Americans took dietary supplements in 2018, as compared to 65 percent in 2009.
The 70-year-old company has announced it will hire more locals as it is one of Suffolk County’s largest employers. Currently employing nearly 2,000 people on Long Island, Nature’s Bounty plans on running all its 11 facilities on Long Island, 24 hours a day.
The supplements produced by Nature’s Bounty are FDA approved, award winning FDA Compliance Expert, John Avellanet, said. “For the sake of convenience it is called cGMPs for Dietary Supplements and Vitamins.”
The vitamins and dietary supplements industry currently runs on ‘Buyers Beware’ model, Avellanet said. Consumers are advised to look out for their own safety while consuming dietary supplements.
“Dietary Supplement companies do not need ‘pre-market’ approval from the FDA unlike Pharmaceutical companies,” Marian Boardley, a FDA Compliance expert said. “Dietary supplement companies don’t need prior FDA approval before they start advertising and selling dietary supplementary products.”
The FDA doesn’t require testing on vitamins and dietary supplements, Linzy Ziegelbaum, a Registered Dietitian says.
“There are some organizations that do quality testing of vitamins and supplements,” Ziegelbaum said. “However, it’s important to note that these seals don’t guarantee safety or effectiveness but rather that products are labeled accurately.”
With almost three quarters of the US population using dietary supplements, Avellanet thinks that the current regulations to govern companies like Nature’s Bounty are unfair.
“How do you judge the safety and quality of pills in a bottle sitting on the supermarket shelf when the only people who actually tested it [hopefully] are the people who made it,” Avellanet asked.
Nature Bounty’s plans to increase its product supply may be risky since the supplement industry, according to New England Journal of Medicine, is laxly regulated. A landmark study published on the site found that over 23,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year can be traced to dietary supplements.
In September last year, the FDA issued a warning letter to Best Nutrition Products, one of the biggest dietary supplement producers in the US. The FDA stated that the labeling of the products are misbranded or held under conditions that do not meet CGMP requirements for dietary supplements.
Many products produced by dietary supplement companies advertise their products as a means to “cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” which qualifies as a drug in the eyes of the FDA and shouldn’t be in the market until tested.
“It feels like something is stuck in my throat every time I’m trying to swallow the fish oil pill,” Swarnima Ghimire, a regular user of Nature’s Bounty fish oil supplement, said. “I don’t really feel that different after taking them, but I think mentally it makes me feel like I’m being healthy so I continue to take them.”
In March, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to step up its policing of dietary supplements, which has increased into a $40 billion industry with more than 50,000 products.