Staying Compliant on Your Social Channels


Did you know there are government rules and guidelines when it comes to what you can and cannot post on your social media channels? Designs for Health’s social media team met with Senior Regulatory Manager, Meghan Killoy. She reminds us to use caution when selecting images or videos for posting.

It is impermissible to use pictures, vignettes, symbols, or other means in a manner that would otherwise suggest the presence of a disease or condition. For example, a picture of a hand with the joints highlighted in red may be considered an impermissible claim, especially if the red highlight could be interpreted as a disease state of arthritis.

Among the claims that can be made for dietary supplements, the most common type of claim is the structure/function claim, which pertains to the normal processes of a structure or function of the human body. Structure/function claims may be made if you have adequate scientific substantiation that the claims are truthful and not misleading. The claim must include the mandatory disclaimer statement below in a bold font, which is linked by an asterisk symbol.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

If the label of a product marketed as a dietary supplement bears an impermissible claim, the product will be subject to regulation as a drug. When assessing if a claim is impermissible, the FDA defines a disease as “damage to an organ, part, structure, or system of the body such that it does not function properly or a state of health leading to such dysfunctioning.”

There are certain factors to consider when determining whether a particular claim is a permissible structure/function claim or an impermissible claim related to the FDA’s definition of “disease.” The claim may not suggest that that product has an effect on a specific condition or a characteristic sign/symptom of a condition, and it should not imply that the product is a drug, is a companion to regular drug therapy, or that it prevents adverse events associated with a disease/condition. Claims should not use impermissible terms, such as disease, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic, diuretic, antidepressant, or any other word suggesting that the product is intended to cure, treat, or prevent disease.

Compliant Examples

Non-Compliant Examples

Helps maintain cardiovascular function Reduces cholesterol and improves blood pressure
Promotes joint health Reduces joint inflammation and pain
Supports immune health Helps prevent colds
Helps maintain healthy blood glucose metabolism Improves blood sugar levels
Supports healthy weight management Increases weight loss
Mood support Helps ease depression and anxiety
Promotes normal microbial balance Reduces pathogenic bacteria in the gut

When reposting or liking content please remember that the FDA considers this type of social media interaction to be equivalent to endorsements of the associated claims.

For more information on the regulation of health claims, structure/function claims, and nutrient content claims, please see Label Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements, the Small Entity Compliance Guide on Structure/Function Claims, or the Advertising Guide for Industry.