Food or Drug, where do supplements fit from a transparency view?
I consider a dietary supplement to be more like a drug than a food. If I'm putting something in my body to get a specific benefit, I want to know what it is and how much is in there, period. Every customer should demand that at a bare minimum. With pharmaceutical drugs, you must declare the dosage of each active ingredient. What doctor would ever prescribe it if the dose wasn't declared?
Foods are a different story. They use prop blends to hide their formulas, but who really cares. If you're buying donuts, you care about the taste NOT how much flour or eggs are in it. There is no therapeutic dosage for flour that will change the efficacy of the donuts. They're either delicious or they are not. At most, you care about the macros, which by the regs must be disclosed.
I'm not so concerned with what's in a flavor system as long as the company is not cheating and hiding other inactive ingredients in it. (Which by the way I have caught brands hiding dairy creamer and other fillers in their Natural and Artificial (N&A) flavor. Sure, maltodextrin is used as a carrier in many flavors systems, but not 4 grams per serving. You get my point?)
With dietary supplements active ingredients must be listed on the label. You can't hide them from a competitor, because they know its there, they can test for it. However, with flavor systems, the regs don't require you to list the actual ingredients. Without knowing what's in it, your competition can't test for it. Well, they could but they would be testing for hundreds if not thousands of ingredients until they got a hit. So use your flavor system to set you apart.
My philosophy on dietary supplements is this: Create the most efficacious formula possible, choose the absolute highest quality ingredients, manufacture to standards that you would feed to your child, and then tell the customer everything you've done. It's that simple to me. Use the flavor system to set you apart from copycats.