A bitter congressional battle over regulation of the dietary supplements industry, considered settled when President Clinton signed compromise legislation this fall, may not be over after all.

Some supplement makers now say the law needs changing because it still gives the Food and Drug Administration too much authority over vitamins, herbs and other supplements."The people will be respected and not protected as if they were ignorant cattle - that's the change that just took place in Congress," said Gerald Kessler, head of the Nutritional Health Alliance. "We would like to go back into that Congress and present the will of the people."

At issue is regulating the $4 billion dietary supplements industry. FDA planned to keep the industry from making unproven claims that supplements cure or prevent disease, but manufacturers contended it really would ban supplements.

After two years of bitter debate, Congress in October passed a compromise setting the first safety standard for supplements, which also ensured consumer access to supplements and allowed manufacturers to label how they affect bodily function.

But the Nutritional Health Alliance contends the law gives FDA too much power. It objects to the requirement of pre-market approval to sell food ingredients as supplements, restrictions on information stores can offer about products, the high safety standard and restrictions on health claims.

The Senate crafted the compromise bill and passed it by voice vote near the end of the congressional session. The House then added those changes that Kessler opposes - but the Senate again OK'd the compromise.

Kessler said he has won promises from the law's authors to retool the measure.

But Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the authors of the Senate version of the new law, say discussions of changes are preliminary until they see how FDA implements it.