Why do supplement manufacturers sometimes need a GMP certificate?
The term has been popping up more and more, so we wanted to take a little time to talk about it. When we help a supplement company with a payment gateway, we do one of two things. Either we provide a gateway only account, which means the merchant already has a merchant account and they just need a payment gateway, or we provide a merchant account recommendation as well and then work to seamlessly connect the merchant account with the client’s payment gateway and shopping cart.
Lately, when assisting online merchants who sell nutritional supplements with credit card processing recommendations, we are finding that many credit card processors are asking website owners to provide a “GMP certificate.” Many dietary supplement merchants were unaware that GMP certificates even existed until they found out they needed one in order to even accept their first online payment.
What is a GMP certificate?
A GMP Certificate is a U.S. FDA enforced, 3rd party document and certification for products like dietary supplements and vitamins used to certify the practices under which a product is manufactured. With a GMP Certificate on hand, so you are essentially showing anyone who needs more information on your business that you, or your manufacturer, follow the practices required to obtain the certificate and that your compliance is audited on an ongoing basis.
What does GMP certificate stand for?
GMP Certificate stands for Good Manufacturing Practices Certificate. GMP, in a nutshell, is a set of established standards and instructions to ensure consistency of the manufacturing process. It also helps ensure efficient error correction when one is found in the process. They are also referred to as CGMP’s, which stands for Current Good Manufacturing Practices. If you want to read more, check out this F.A.Q. on GMP’s and SOP’s, or check out the FDA website on GMP’s and CGMP’s.
How does a supplement merchant get a GMP certificate?
If you are an online supplement merchant, like many of our clients, your manufacturer generally provides GMP’s. All neutraceutical merchants should ask any prospective manufacturer about it before issuing a purchase order for products. You might also consider actually reviewing the document and deciding if their standards are up to yours. With manufacturing all over the country, there are definite differences in standards and practices, just because a manufacturer has a GMP doesn’t mean their standards are the same as the previous or next manufacturer you work with. The FDA sets minimal standards and requirements, but that doesn’t put all manufacturers with GMP’s on the same level. It is also worth noting that though the FDA requires compliance with GMP regulation, manufacturers are not required to get a GMP certification to process and produce goods. Knowing as much as possible about the products you sell will help you cut off any possible repercussions that may come down the line. Awareness and education are the keys to avoiding problems.
But what about those e-commerce retailers who make their own products?
If you handle many aspects of production yourself, then you may need to get a GMP certificate via a 3rd party auditor. NSF is one of the most well-known companies in that area. They can perform an audit of your facility, manufacturing processes, and records. Afterwards, there is a regular inspection and re-audit to keep your certification. Although the purpose of the audit is for the facility products are manufactured in, it is possible to get permission to put the GMP logo on some of your products. It is a more complicated process than the standard certification but can go a long way for products like dietary supplements, which is one of the major product lines the GMP is designed for. You can learn more from this Nutrascience Labs article.
If you need more help with GMP’s, feel free to contact us for tips. Alternatively, you could check out the FDA website. We can point you in the right direction and give you some guidance when you are ready for your payment gateway or a merchant account recommendation.
You might be wondering why all of this is necessary, and honestly, it might seem excessive to anyone just getting into the industry, but payment gateways and merchant accounts serve a fundamental purpose for the supplement industry…getting paid. Due to the ever-present black hat business people in the world product integrity for e-commerce has become a priority for the industry. Not just for the financial transactions, but for the customers as well. Businesses that sell products deemed “high-risk” must acquire a high-risk friendly merchant account and payment gateway in order to accept credit card payments and sometimes, though no fault of their own, they must jump through some hoops to do so. This protects the credit card companies from higher return rates, fines, government intervention and chargeback losses. A GMP certificate can also help protect you, the site owner, from some liabilities and fraud.