Selling US supplements in the UK

Discussion in 'International Business' started by scm5436, Jul 9, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    Hi,

    I've identified a couple of US supplements (ie. health pills) that I wish to sell in the UK, and I've already seen 2 other UK sites selling these (though I don't know how legally).

    Can anyone tell me which government body I would need to contact regarding the relevant laws surrounding a) the sale of supplements, b) the labelling requirements, and c) disclaimers

    Specifically I need to know:

    1) Are there any specific requirements on the labelling (ie. might I need to slap a 'UK legal' ingredients label on the box, or is the US label sufficient?

    2) Is there a list of banned ingredients that I can check these products against

    3) What claims can I make, and/or what disclaimers do I need to make on my site when selling these products?

    All of the products have the standard US disclaimer "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.", and I would be happy to reproduce that message on my site.

    The other UK sites don't appear to have added any additional info to the product (I purchased samples), although they do list just basic product sales blurb on the product page rather than making any claims about health benefits. But I have no idea if they have fully researched thing or are just winging it. Also, they're big sites so the lack of sales blurb could just be due to them slapping on a bit of manufacturers text on all products rather than doing anything special to really sell the product on the page.

    I also need to know what the potential threats are if I just went ahead without fully researching this? ie. would I get a warning letter from some government dept saying "hey, you can say/do/sell that - you need to change something or else", or are they more likely to go with "hey, you're not allowed to do that, here's a huge fine. And now you need to change it."

    Depending on the answers is there a way to incorporate outside of the UK but ship the items from here? ie. so technically customers are 'importing' the goods from a foreign company which just happens to have a UK based 'distribution facility' in the UK for convenience of shipping?

    ps. How/where do I found out the customs codes for import duties?
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #1
  2. Cloughie

    Cloughie UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    112 18
    I currently sell U.S supplements in the U.S, so can probaby help a bit.

    1) Are there any specific requirements on the labelling (ie. might I need to slap a 'UK legal' ingredients label on the box, or is the US label sufficient?

    Yes, to be honest I would contact a UK manufacturer or private label manufacturer and ask them this question specifically. Give them a feeling you're willing to place a large order but have some questions and they will be able to tell you what should be on the label. You'll actually find that many provate label manufacturers will take care of your label design, thus making sure it meets any requirements. If you are going to get them manufactured in the U.S, just check with the UK people and then cross reference with what you get in the U.S.

    2.) You can get this information from customs I imagine (at least for moving supps INTO the UK. As for selling them in the UK, I'm not sure. But if you can move them into the UK, I imagine that they are fine to sell in the UK.

    3.) ALl I know is how the U.S do it and actually it's incredibly loosely regulated by the FDA. You can prety much make and claim what you want and there is no approval process, it's the FDA's job to spot and then challenge companies which is why you see so much crap about.

    By the way, moving supps accross countries is always a pain. Things get caught up, it;s expensive etc.

    Why not just get them manufactured in the U.K? theres nothing stopping you looking at the type of supplements you want to sell and then having a UK manufacturer produce a variant of them?
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: Cloughie Member since: Jan 16, 2010
    #2
  3. Naughty Vend

    Naughty Vend UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    948 179
    You should look up the MHRA website for these phrases;
    • Traditional Herbal Registration
    • Vitamins & Supplements
    • What is a Medicine and When is it not a Food
    Any product being a medicine i.e. one which claims to have a metabolic or physical effect (even if just in the marketing material) must have a marketing authority, transitional arrangements do not apply to 'Brand' names and only to actual names of the ingedients within the compound. If the complaint is serious i.e. would require the attention of a practitioner then it's not a THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) product and efficacy must be proven which is where you come unstuck...

    So, what most people are doing is claiming their products are health supplements and pretending to have transitional rights, these expire April 2011 by the way, but unbeknown to most of these retailers / importers there's a group within the MHRA called Borderline Classification whom have been compiling case files for quite a while. You will have to be able to prove very clearly this is a supplement and make no claims of any benefit otherwise, so the Food Standards Agency is your next step and then you'll need production reports and quality, batch, expiry and remember as is so common with many products in this category that even when you do overcome the hurdles you can't sell it as you probably want to like "Makes You Build Muscle Faster" for example as that, is a medicine even if it's made from dust mites and cheeseburger wrappers.

    http://www.mhra.gov.uk
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: Naughty Vend Member since: Aug 5, 2007
    #3
  4. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    But it's a specific, branded supplement only made by one company and I just want to resell it here, I don't want to get involved with having my own products produced.
    So what happens when they expire? And what are they compiling cases for? Are they suddenly going to rush out and start prosecuting people?

    I assume it's not illegal for uk residents to purchase these goods online from US websites, so maybe I can go with some kind of 'offshore' approach? Would that work? If so would I just need to create on offshore company or would the items have to be sent from offshore as well? (eg. somewhere like Jersey).
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #4
  5. Naughty Vend

    Naughty Vend UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    948 179
    You really should read the MHRA website as I advised you...

    If this is "medicinal" under the definition then you have a legal responsibility to be licensed, effectively from April 2004 although there are some transitional rules for products which were already on the market as natural herbal legal etc and the importer, distributor etc is not exempt from this requirement - you'll find the fees and application forms on the MHRA site.

    To import from offshore, well read the paragraph above - whilst you could go grey market and use PO boxes etc you are a UK citizen I assume and thefore your domicile makes you responsible under UK law if detected. That's your choice but usually you get your sentence halved for good behaviour, we'll send ye a cake. :cool:
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: Naughty Vend Member since: Aug 5, 2007
    #5
  6. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    Yes, I'm reading now and sending them an email.

    My intention of going offshore is not to try to 'escape justice' in the event that I get caught.

    It was more based around the idea that if it's not legal to sell it in the UK and if it is legal for UK residents to exercise their god given right to buy whatever the hell they like from where-ever they like without the nanny state telling them what they can buy, then could I legally set up a company somewhere outside the UK (but with more UK friendly shipping charges) so that they can individually import from me rather than having to import from the US.

    I'm just trying to find out what the law says, and what my options are. I could of course just do what everyone else seems to have done and just slap up a website and sell the stuff regardless...
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #6
  7. Naughty Vend

    Naughty Vend UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    948 179
    Indeed, a person can purchase offshore but that doesn't make it legal for you if the law is deemed applicable in regard to that product... as you would be the owner of that offshore company you would be held liable.

    Now yes it's possible to set-up nominee directors and shareholders, in operating the business you'll need a bank account and that due international money laundering regulations generally speaking requires a government issued photo id and you need to physically operate the business. So if the goods were actually supplied from within the territory of UK law and you get caught doing just that, regardless of the company formation then you have a problem... Some use fulfillment companies offshore and you can hide behind that but ask yourself if it's worth it...

    If you can get the product registered or find a way that you do not need to "actually" have it registered instead of just kidding folk on as some of these so called importers do, then that would be a much better way if indeed there is expected high demand for this product. We may not agree with the law but we need to operate within it, as a current importer of some ten thousand capsules per month of a herbal product you ain't preaching to the choir on that front, believe me.
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: Naughty Vend Member since: Aug 5, 2007
    #7
  8. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    Wow, had a reply already. They suggested in the first instance forwarding the product details to the classification people so they can decide it's status. Just sending that off to them now.
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #8
  9. Ali-v-8

    Ali-v-8 UKBF Legend Free Member

    5,337 1,193
    One thing i will point out is that if you send a product to the UK and it is a banned listed product like the have done with mephedrone it is arrest first and ask questions later.

    "The law does not class ignorance as a defence"


     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: Ali-v-8 Member since: May 8, 2008
    #9
  10. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    No, but to be fair, maybe it should! There are so many laws and regulations around these days it would be virtually impossible for any lay person to know them all - and therefore unreasonable to prosecute people for breaching a regulation they wouldn't reasonably have known about). Even Lawyers have to study for years before they can start practicing then they have to constantly update themselves with all the new stuff.

    Obviously, most people can figure out what's right and wrong and can apply common sense to guess what might or might not be allowed*, but I still suspect that a huge proportion of the population unknowingly break laws and regulations just going about their normal lives...

    (*as I have done here to guess that I'm probably not going to be able to just sell US supplements in the UK, and have therefore attempted to clarify the law before taking any action)
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #10
  11. scm5436

    scm5436 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    755 84
    Couldn't find the info on vits & supps - do you have a link?
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2010 By: scm5436 Member since: Nov 22, 2007
    #11
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.