Council for Responsible Nutrition Files Lawsuit Challenging Unconstitutional Law That Restricts Access to Health Products

MARCH 13, 2024

Seeks to Stop Enforcement of New York Law That Restricts Consumer Access to Safe Dietary Supplements and Chills Truthful Communication of Health Benefits 

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today announced the filing of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a recently enacted New York law that would restrict consumer access to safe and beneficial health products. The suit seeks an injunction to prohibit the enforcement of new age-based restrictions on the purchase of certain dietary supplements in the state of New York.

Passed by the New York legislature and signed by Governor Hochul on Oct. 25, 2023, the law prohibits retailers in New York from selling to anyone under 18 years old any dietary supplements with ingredients that are labeled, marketed, or otherwise represented for “weight loss” or “muscle building,” even if the product doesn't explicitly make such claims. It is slated to go into effect in April. 

“CRN’s Board of Directors did not reach this decision lightly,” said Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN. “Our initial strategy was to work with legislators, the Governor, and the AG’s office to develop reasonable solutions that address legitimate concerns about the rise in eating disorders. But having exhausted those avenues, we must ask the courts to protect the rights of our members, retailers, and consumers in New York.”

While the stated purpose of the law is to prevent eating disorders in young people, there is no credible scientific evidence demonstrating a causal link between dietary supplements and such disorders. The law’s overly broad and ambiguous definitions of “weight loss” or “muscle building” products will lead retailers and marketers of dietary supplements to restrict sales of a broad range of products containing truthful and otherwise lawful claims for fear of prosecution, with fines up to $500 per violation. 

“We know that age restrictions on products inevitably lead to restrictions on access for everyone,” said Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN. “Faced with potential fines, and without guidance from the state, stores are likely to cast an overly broad net on what is covered, and some retailers will either discontinue those products entirely or remove them from self-service availability, which means behind the counter or in locked cabinets. That prevents all consumers, regardless of age, from having widespread access to beneficial products.” 

"On a human level, the law gives false hope to individuals and families affected by eating disorders, that a measure like this will somehow solve or make better what is widely regarded as a complex, multifaceted problem that the science tells us is not caused by the use of dietary supplements,” Mister added. “And on a legal level, it punishes truthful, otherwise lawful communications by imposing age restrictions based on representations communicated about a product, rather than the actual safety of the product itself.”

The law instead focuses on an overly broad and undefined set of criteria that can subject any dietary supplement to age-based restrictions, and it provides no guidance for compliance, leaving manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers guessing as to which products are covered under the new legal requirements. In that environment, retailers and marketers must over-restrict, thereby chilling legitimate commercial speech, and preventing consumers from having access to both the products and truthful information about their health benefits or increasing the cost and ability to easily access beneficial health products.

Specifically, CRN's lawsuit seeks to enjoin the enforcement of the law, arguing that it runs afoul of the federal and New York constitutions by imposing age-based restrictions on dietary supplements based on vague conditions. The lawsuit also argues that the law produces seemingly illogical results by restricting products that are not marketed for weight loss or muscle building and are widely recognized as safe.

CRN’s complaint argues that by creating age restrictions on dietary supplements based on such expansive and imprecise guidelines, the law imposes sanctions on lawful behavior and protected commercial speech, while leaving parties who want to comply guessing as to which products are covered.

"Like the supporters of this law, CRN’s member companies take the rise in eating disorders among young people, and the suffering they cause, very seriously," said Mister. “But after carefully evaluating the issue, we believe this law is an example of misguided regulation that will harm both the industry and consumers. By filing this lawsuit, we hope to ensure that New York residents continue to have access to safe and effective dietary supplements.”

CRN’s complaint is available here. For more information about CRN and its mission, please visit

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 180+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics.  Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.