A federal grant of $2 million is set to harmonise testing methods for analysing chemical compounds in supplements and botanicals in the United States. AOAC International, a non- governmental agency that has set analytical standards for foods and agriculture for a century, will now also take responsibility for testing of dietary supplements.
The methods test for levels of marker compounds—substances that are used as indicators for consistent production of botanical products.
?Analytical methods have been the weak link in meeting label claims,? said Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association. ?Money talks. Now they can pay labs to participate.?
Single laboratories completed work in September on establishing validated methods for glucosamine and beta-carotene. Another eight to 10 labs will now review those results, which will be published. The industry will be able to use those methods for two years, after which they will be recommended for final adoption.
?We need to encourage the industry to participate as experts, to supply extracts and raw materials, to conduct lab work, and to donate funds because all we have now is government money,? said Anita Mishra, who is the acting liaison for AOAC International.
Over the next five years, AOAC hopes to establish meaningful validation methods for 15 to 20 of the top products that have both the most urgent public health concerns and largest market size. These might include, according to Mishra, St. John?s wort, ginkgo, chondroitin, SAMe, vitamin E, green tea, echinacea, feverfew, co-Q10 and cranberry.
Advantage For SAVVY Suppliers
Suppliers that provide adequate analytical records for their materials should win out over suppliers that do not, McGuffin said.
?The sophisticated wholesale supplier is already thinking about what they need to do regarding analytical support for their customers because these customers will be looking at that,? said McGuffin. ?Companies communicating meaningful analytical data in a meaningful way will succeed.? Information regarding a raw material?s identity and levels of marker compounds is typically furnished in a Certificate of Analysis. Although the methods will not mandate what chemical markers a botanical or other ingredient should be standardised to, they will provide suppliers and manufacturers with the consensus scientific view of how much of a given marker will result in an efficacious product.
?There are C of A issues with botanicals,? said Todd Norton, president of botanicals supplier Sabinsa. ?This should have relevance to the industry because they?re trying to bring the standards in food and agriculture to supplements.?