DeCA, DOD ensuring safety of dietary supplements
Commissaries are partnering with DOD to help ensure the dietary supplements on store shelves remain free of illegal and unsafe ingredients.
In December, the Defense Commissary Agency announced to its industry partners that it added another layer of protection regarding dietary supplements by requiring these products to be free of any ingredients noted on DOD’s prohibited list posted on the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) website.
OPSS is a DOD dietary supplement resource created by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP), a Defense Center of Excellence department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
“Many of our commissary patrons use dietary supplements to support their physical fitness regimens,” said Deborah Harris, DeCA dietitian and health and wellness program manager.
“By using DOD’s list of prohibited ingredients to screen our products, we are adding an extra layer of confidence for our military members and their families and installation leadership that the supplements they buy in our stores are safe and legal.”
LaRue Smith, DeCA’s category manager for health and beauty care products, is the agency’s contact person for suppliers wanting to sell supplements in military commissaries. “Preventing harmful supplements from showing up on store shelves is critical to supporting the mission of delivering an efficient and effective commissary benefit.
“Once a supplier presents a product to us for consideration to be in our commissaries, we work with them to confirm they’ve checked the DOD banned substances list,” Smith said. “We still have our own checks and balances such as feedback from patrons and stores. However, the DOD list adds a very important safety level of protection for DeCA’s customers.”
The path to the current OPSS program began in January 2012, when DOD wanted a department-wide campaign to educate the military community on dietary supplements as far as potential health risks and safe products. A collaboration of organizations under the DOD Dietary Supplement Subcommittee – the U.S. Army Public Health Command and Uniformed Services University’s CHAMP – gave birth to Operation Supplement Safety.
“Some dietary supplement products contain stimulants, steroids, hormone-like ingredients, controlled substances or unapproved drugs and the consumer has no way of knowing this,” said Dr. Patricia Deuster, PhD, director of CHAMP and professor at the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine. “The DOD prohibited list helps you identify supplements that might pose a potential risk to your health or career. Not all supplements on the list are illegal or banned, but all pose a potential health and readiness risk.”
OPSS has now grown DOD-wide in its campaign to deliver relevant and current information on dietary supplements to the military community.
“Our patrons need to know there are both unsafe [substances] and substances banned by the Food and Drug Administration that can affect their health and, for some service members, negatively impact their career through a positive drug test,” she said. “The DOD list helps us stay vigilant at the commissary as we help them avoid some of these pitfalls.”
In addition to the DOD list, the FDA ultimately regulates and enforces legislation affecting dietary supplements, Deuster said. To access the FDA website for its statements about dietary supplements, go to https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/.