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Genetic ID Testing and Verification of Plant Materials and Ingredients

Compliance & Quality Compliance & Quality

Nutrition Industry Executive (NIE) asked Gary Swanson, senior vice president, quality assurance and control, Herbalife Nutrition, in Torrance, CA the following question.

Where are we on genetic ID testing and verification of plant materials and ingredients?

Swanson: Manufacturers of botanical-based products are often faced with the timely and expensive task of finding botanical starting materials of correct special identity or of suitable quality, which involves sending samples from multiple suppliers to off-site quality laboratories, resulting in longer turnaround times for production. Using DNA-based testing allows us to identify the target botanical and detect its adulterants.

In 2010, Herbalife Nutrition began its comprehensive botanical evaluation program. Going above and beyond the basic regulatory requirements, we created a botanical scientific community where botanical ingredients, including our own portfolio of 153 botanicals, were reviewed, analyzed and validated. We have since created both reference and genetic sequence libraries; and we are in the process of building a herbarium, a collection containing dried plants for scientific study.

In an effort to create new, mutually agreed upon standards for the Natural Health Products (NHP) industry, Herbalife Nutrition partnered with The University of Guelph, a comprehensive public research university in Guelph, Canada, to help establish The NHP Research Alliance.

Current industry standards rely on testing protocols that identify chemicals and not always verification of the species in the ingredients. In developing an extensive standard biological reference materials (SBRMs) DNA library for natural ingredients, the Alliance will house more than 100,000 industry-sponsored, raw ingredient samples, creating an accurate resource for developing and producing trusted products.