Almost everyone working within the dietary supplement industry knows Diana Morgan, the VP of Global Regulatory and Government Affairs at Nutrabolt. But it’s not just all that C4 that makes Diana an industry rock star — it’s the social events she puts on as well!
In 2020, when industry trade shows abruptly shut down, Diana decided that it was time to bring back human physical contact. She started a series of in-person social events and parties known as What’s Up With Supps, and continues the tradition by hosting supplement industry parties alongside major industry gatherings and expos.
We had Diana on to talk about her upcoming Retro Toy Party, which will be the final industry event in Las Vegas at SupplySide West 2023, held on Thursday, October 26 at the House of Blues.
Diana explains the creation of What’s Up With Supps, and then we get into some of her regulatory work at Nutrabolt, talk energy drinks, and reminisce over our trip to Washington DC at this year’s Fly-In Day with Natural Products Association.
Fun episode here, and if you’re going to be at SupplySide West, then meet up with us at the party!
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Show Notes with Diana Morgan: What’s Up with Supps
0:00 – Introductions
Ben and Mike welcome Diana Morgan to Episode 115 of the PricePlow Podcast. Diana shares her background, mentioning she comes from New Jersey and has nearly 18 years of experience in the dietary supplement industry. She holds a Master’s in nutrition and is a certified sports nutritionist. Her current role is VP of Regulatory and Government Affairs for Nutrabolt, the owner of major supplement brands like Cellucor, C4 Energy, and Xtend. Diana is also the founder of “What’s up with Supps,” an industry networking group that hosts events at major trade shows and conferences.
2:15 – What’s Up With Supps Retro Toy Party for SupplySide West 2023
The conversation delves into Diana’s passion for organizing parties. The hosts reminisce about attending some of her events and connect over shared interests. They discuss the upcoming “What’s up with Supps” event at Supply Side West, scheduled for October 26 at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. The event’s theme is “retro toys come to life,” promising a unique and entertaining experience, including a Rubik’s Cube competition sponsored by a cognitive health ingredient company.
You can see the SSW 2023 Retro Toy Party event on EventBrite.
Diana explains the origin of “What’s up with Supps” when Expo West was canceled in 2020. She describes the disappointment of missing industry connections and how she and others decided to organize outdoor networking events to maintain relationships. The first event in September 2020 was a success, fostering a sense of community and connection that virtual meetings couldn’t replace. As a result, they continued hosting such events to bring the industry together.
5:30 – Industry Events
Ben shares his experience attending one of these events in Morristown, New Jersey, and how it was a welcome break from the isolation in 2020 – especially in New Jersey where the tyranny reigned supreme. He highlights the significance of industry friendships, especially those formed at trade shows like Expo West and Arnold.
Diana elaborates on her motivation to organize these events, emphasizing the natural products industry’s focus on health and wellness. She recalls facing criticism and skepticism about hosting events during 2020 but believed in the importance of fostering community within the industry, and the human physical touch of hugging your friends. Ben reminisces about the Morristown event where no one wore masks, and the joy of reconnecting with industry friends after a long hiatus.
The conversation transitions to the consistent presence of “What’s up with Supps” events at various expos and trade shows, becoming a tradition. Diana explains the aim of creating a non-competitive and welcoming environment where industry professionals can come together, share ideas, and enjoy themselves. She also introduces the concept of incorporating fun and playful themes, such as the upcoming “retro toys come to life” theme for the Supply Side West event, as a way to bring out the childlike creativity and playfulness in attendees.
9:30 – Diana’s Role at Nutrabolt
Ben then delves into Diana’s role at Nutrabolt as VP of Regulatory and Government Affairs, inquiring about her day-to-day responsibilities. Diana provides insights into the multifaceted nature of her role, which involves regulatory oversight, product development, quality control, government relations, and global regulatory monitoring. She discusses the importance of staying updated on global regulatory landscapes and the role her team plays in reviewing labels for compliance.
16:00 – Vitamin Shoppe
Diana discusses her previous role at Vitamin Shoppe. Diana shares insights into her time at Vitamin Shoppe, where she worked on product development, flavor development, label creation, and regulatory compliance. She recalls the challenges of tasting multiple iterations of products in a single day, noting that it could be taxing on the stomach.
The conversation also touches on a recent incident involving a company called “C5” and Nutrabolt, where C5 undoubtedly infringes on C4’s trademark, branding, and copyrights. Diana expresses her surprise at C5’s audacity, considering Nutrabolt’s large size and formidable legal team. Ben and Mike acknowledge the audacity of C5’s actions and briefly discuss the international aspect of the issue.
21:30 – Advocating in DC
The group delves into Diana’s experiences in Washington, DC, where she joined Ben and Mike for meetings related to dietary supplement regulation (flashback to Episode #100). Diana is asked about the goals of Nutrabolt and herself during their visit to the nation’s capital.
Diana explains that Nutrabolt aims to advocate for the dietary supplement industry’s best interests by engaging with policymakers and legislators. They seek to provide lawmakers with accurate information about the industry’s products, safety, and benefits while emphasizing the importance of science-based regulation.
Diana herself is dedicated to promoting responsible self-regulation within the industry. She believes in the importance of compliance and education to ensure product safety and consumer trust. Additionally, she expresses the need to address issues such as mislabeling and adulteration in the supplement market.
26:00 – Labeling and marketing
Diana mentions that there is a push to restrict access to certain sports nutrition products, such as weight loss supplements and energy drinks, for individuals under 18 due to concerns about their potential health effects. However, she highlights that responsible labeling, clear warning statements, and proper education can help ensure safe consumption.
The discussion also touches on the importance of differentiating between dietary supplements and beverages, especially when it comes to ingredient levels and regulatory requirements. The labeling and marketing of energy drinks and similar products can have a significant impact on consumer perceptions and safety.
35:45 – GRAS status
The discussion turns to the use of self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for ingredients in dietary supplements and food products. Diana emphasizes the importance of thorough substantiation and safety data for ingredients, whether human-based studies or other forms of research.
Diana explains that while human studies are preferred for substantiation, they are not the only acceptable form of evidence. Data from animal studies or traditional herbal uses can also be considered, as long as there is a clear mechanism of action and a way to extrapolate the findings to humans.
Diana highlights the need for rigorous safety assessments in the dietary supplement industry to ensure that products are safe for consumption, especially when dealing with ingredients that may not have extensive human studies but have been used traditionally or have relevant animal research.
43:00 – Amino acid calorie count
Diana discusses the FDA’s position on whether individual amino acids should be counted as calories. She mentions that the FDA’s stance is that individual amino acids, when in isolation, should not be counted as calories. This means that they should not contribute to the total calorie count of a product. However, when amino acids are part of a complete protein, they can be considered in the calorie count associated with protein. This distinction is important for labeling and calculating the nutritional content of food and dietary supplements.
48:00 – Wrap up and SupplySide West
The episode wraps up with Diana talking about her upcoming “What’s Up with Supps” event on October 26th from 5 to 11 PM, which is set to close out the SupplySide West conference (October 23-27). Diana provides information about the event’s details, its charitable aspects, and some exciting items up for auction, such as a signed poster from the creator of Friday the 13th.
Where to Follow Diana and What’s Up with Supps
- Website: WhatsUpWithSupps.com
- What’s Up With Supps on Instagram: @whats_up_with_supps
- Diana Morgan on Instagram: @diamond_girl_204
- Diana Morgan on LinkedIn
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Thanks for joining us, Diana! You can head back to the PricePlow Podcast and subscribe on your platform of choice.