The Natural Products Association announced a new program for testing Chinese raw materials for purity and composition. The program is in response to industry's efforts to maintain product quality and reliability as competition to supply ingredients and raw materials to the industry grows.
"By testing raw materials in China, we're adding another layer of consumer protection to a process that has delivered good health products to Americans for generations," said David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association. "We're very pleased to announce that U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) will be testing the raw material for us."
USP is a private, nonprofit organization that sets standards for drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements and food additives in the United States and in many other countries, working collaboratively with local governments.
Under the new program, raw materials used in the most common dietary supplements will be tested in USP's Shanghai, China laboratory. This represents a significant departure from the current process where U.S. companies must rely on a test by Chinese laboratories or test samples themselves in the United States. This, according to a press release, would offer several benefits—including reduced transit times and costs, greater traceability and documentation of ingredients used in the supply chain, use of state-of-the-art technology in testing, and a systematic approach to verification.
Natural Products Association officials will provide test results to member companies and subscribers and build a database on raw materials suppliers, which will be made available to U.S. manufacturers to inform contracting and supply-chain decisions.
The launch of the China-based testing program, which has been under development for a year, coincides with new rules on dietary supplements issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June, which the Natural Products Association strongly supported. The FDA Good Manufacturing Practices rules, however, do not apply to raw materials or their suppliers.
"The combination of the new FDA rules and the testing program will greatly strengthen quality assurance and consumer confidence," said Seckman. "It's really a one-two punch to keep America's dietary supplement supply safe, effective and of the highest quality."