I have to be honest — I was a little intimidated when I found out research and development (R&D) was the next department to cover for Inside USANA. After all, I’m just a simple writer, and these are the scientists, researchers, and lab experts who oversee the creation and development of our top-quality, award-winning products. Thankfully, I was able to interview John Cuomo, executive director of product development and technologies. He’s been with USANA for 17 years and knows the department by heart.
Back in late November, the department underwent some restructuring, separating the employees into three areas of focus. This is awesome for two reasons: first, it helps the R&D team run more efficiently, because everyone now understands their specific responsibilities and what they’ll be held accountable for; and second, it breaks the department up in sections, which totally helps me write this blog post.
Believe it or not, USANA doesn’t receive a magical list of products to formulate and develop every year — shocking, I know. Our direction comes from the research team — the “R” in R&D. This group spends their days searching out new and exciting ingredients and formulas for potential development. There are thousands of ingredient suppliers out there constantly trying to convince health companies that their ingredients are the best. Problem is, for every quality supplier, there are just as many shady ones looking to make a quick buck. Fortunately, our researchers hit the scientific databases and read studies and journals online to verify if the claims being made are valid or if the ingredients have any actual value. It’s a crucial job that takes a lot of time and dedication.
Let’s say the research team stumbles across a new ingredient they think is worth our time — what’s next? That’s when product development steps in — the “D” in R&D. First, they need to qualify the ingredient by testing it multiple times. They verify the supplier’s claims by making sure the ingredient has the proper concentration and doesn’t contain any contaminants such as heavy metals or organic contaminants. Additionally, they’ll perform a microbiological test to ensure the product is free of bacteria, yeast, or mold.
They don’t mess around when it comes to the quality of our product!
This is an important stage of the development process, because it ensures our products meet the highest industry standards. Twenty years ago, this kind of testing and screening was almost unheard of in the health supplement industry. Almost anyone could enter the market and sell ingredients or create a product without any regulation. USANA started with a goal to manufacture their products at pharmaceutical-grade levels, which we still do today. Just look to our FDA-registered manufacturing facilities and numerous awards from ConsumerLab.com as proof.
Scientific and Clinical Affairs
While the research and product development employees work mostly with new product research, the scientific and clinical affairs team works to strengthen the validity of our current line of products. They research the ingredients and formulations to help our Associates build their businesses by providing them with scientific evidence that shows our products are effective. This is seen in nifty tools like Ask the Scientist, the Essentials of Health e-mails, and the new True Health Assessment.
The other focus for this team is our clinical studies, which examine the effects of our products on controlled test groups. The studies can take place in the lab while testing product ingredients, in our home office through in-house clinical studies, or outside USANA in third-party clinical studies: The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, Linus Pauling Institute, University of Utah, and Utah State University are a few of our partners.
Practicing What They Preach
Here’s the big takeaway about the R&D department: if you were to poll USANA’s employees to see which supplements they take and why, you’d discover that R&D employees use almost every single one of USANA’s Nutritionals. This is because they truly believe in the products. They spend their days researching and testing each one, so they, more than anyone at USANA, understand their importance to overall health and wellness.
Inside USANA is a monthly series in which we check in with various departments to help you get to know them a little better.