As the supplement industry digs deeper into the case of the New York Attorney General's actions against herbal supplements, it has banded together to offer plenty of free resources for botanical brands.
Starting off with trade organizations, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) created a microsite with several resources to combat the bad press, including a Q&A to help respond to consumer concerns, quotes from experts, and CRN’s response to the investigation. A cool infographic easily explains why the botanical products may not have passed DNA tests (spoiler: it's because botanical extracts don't contain much DNA!).
The Natural Products Association (NPA) created an online portal that allows industry members—or anyone for that matter—to easily email or tweet to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. NPA’s goal is to inundate the Attorney General with requests to release the data that backed his cease-and-desist letters. Just click a link, and a tweet to him is automatically populated. This page also has the Attorney General’s phone number.
The nonprofit American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) made its letter to Attorney General Schneiderman available online, which includes national and international monographs for each of the seven herbal dietary supplements tested in the investigation. Brands can use these methods to substantiate the botanical content of their products. In addition, AHP’s letter explains that DNA barcoding is not a scientifically valid technology for determining the identity of botanical extracts in many dietary supplements.
The American Botanical Council (ABC), in partnership with AHP and the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), offers the free Botanical Adulterants Program, which gives resources on common botanical adulterants and how to test for them. In particular to herbs tested by the Attorney General, the Program’s article “A Brief History of Adulteration of Herbs, Spices and Botanical Drugs," touches on the history of and common adulterants for St. John’s Wort, Ginseng and Echinacea.
And, of course, INSIDER has many resources on botanical research, testing and extraction:
- The article “Botanical Ingredient Adulteration—Truth or Consequences" by ABC’s Mark Blumenthal and AHP’s Roy Upton reviews common mistakes botanical brands make that can lead to adulterated product; they also offer a quick chart of common adulterates of popular herbs.
- INSIDER’s 100% Identity Testing Immersion Center offers several Reports and Digital Issues on best practices for testing ingredients—including botanicals—for identity.
- Our January 2015 Botanicals Digital Issue explores recent research results for top-selling herbal ingredients, such as cranberry, saw palmetto, ginkgo and curcumin, with additional features on the ever-growing botanical market and new botanical drug business opportunities.
- The article “Choosing the Right Botanical Extraction Method" by INSIDER’s Steve Myers explains the process of botanical extraction, looking at different methods including water and alcohol solvents, and tells were to go to get extraction resources.
- “Extracts: More than a Cup of Tea" by Verdure’s Blake Ebersole explains the differences in botanical extraction methods.
- Additionally, INSIDER’s Digital Summit on Contract Manufacturing & GMP Compliance helps brand owners choose contract manufacturers that use validated tests for ingredients and products. Most of the retailers that received the letters from the Attorney General used contract manufacturers for their products, so this case underscores the importance of the partnership between brand owner and contract manufacturer.
And here is our current coverage of the New York Attorney General’s investigation:
- NY Attorney General Claims GNC, Walmart Mislabeled Supplements
- Supplement Industry to Test Botanical Products at Heart of NY AG Probe
- Video: DNA Tests Reliable for Raw Botanicals, but Not Extracts
- Industry Demands NY AG to #ReleaseTheReport
- GNC Consultant: Botanical Supplements in NY AG Probe Meet FDA Regulations
We’ve got more articles, blogs and interviews planned covering what companies can do when they receive a cease-and-desist letter, the ins and outs of DNA Botanical Testing, the class action lawsuits that are following the Attorney General’s letters and more.
In addition, be sure to attend Ingredient Marketplace, a SupplySide event held April 7 to 9, which will feature the panel discussion “Adulteration & Your Role in Delivering Value to Consumers" on Wednesday, April 9 just before the show floor opens. This panel will help brands examine business practices and how to align them so they can truly offer valuable finished goods to shoppers. So far, speakers include ABC’s founder Blumenthal, CRN’s CEO Steve Mister, and Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker partner Dan Dwyer.