By Elizabeth Foley
The United States currently markets more than 55,000 dietary supplements, with new products and ingredients being introduced on a regular basis (1). Independent third-party certification programs offer quality assurance in the marketplace for dietary supplements. These certification programs are not owned or controlled by companies involved in the manufacture or sale of dietary supplements. The fast pace with which new dietary supplements are introduced, and the fact that FDA approval is not required before products enter the market, makes third party testing essential.
Dietary supplements are classified as a special class of food, subject to post-market regulation by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). To be considered a food supplement, a product must contain ingredients that have a history of use in food supply, be taken orally (like a food), be advertised only as a means to benefit the diet or to provide nutrients, and have a supplement facts panel. According to the FDA’s dietary supplement guidelines, a product must meet all of the criteria above to qualify. Nevertheless, the FDA does not make sure that products comply with these criteria before they are sold. As a result contaminated or subpar dietary supplements sometimes reach consumers (2). It is important for consumers to be aware of these potential risks that come from buying dietary supplements.
Here is everything that shoppers need to know so they can purchase a safe and effective dietary supplement.
Why are Supplements 3rd Party Tested
There are several benefits associated with taking dietary supplements so it comes as no surprise consumer demand for supplements is through the roof. When shopping for a dietary supplement it is beneficial to learn as much about the manufacturer as possible. The most important consideration when choosing a dietary supplement manufacturer is whether or not their products are third-party tested.
Having supplements 3rd party tested is voluntary and should ideally be done before a supplement is sold to consumers. Supplements that have been certified by a third party will display a stamp of certification from the certification company. Certification stamps act as proof that a product is safe and that it does what it claims to do. Dietary supplement manufacturers who pursue third-party testing do so because they care about selling their customers a reliable product.
Ways Vitamins are Tested for Purity
Current Good Manufacturing Practice also known as cGMP is a set of regulations enforced by the FDA. Current Good Manufacturing Practice provides the means to design, monitor, and control production processes. The cGMP regulations ensure the identity, strength, quality, and purity of products, by requiring that manufacturers manage their manufacturing processes appropriately. As part of this requirement, companies must establish strong quality management systems, acquire quality raw materials, establish robust operating procedures and detect and investigate product quality deviations as well as maintain reliable testing laboratories.
If put into practice properly, this formal system of controls for vitamin companies helps to prevent contamination, mistakes, deviations, failures, and errors. The quality of the vitamins is thus ensured.
Third-party verifications of cGMP compliance include:
1. Safe Quality Food Certified
2. GMP Compliant
3. NSF Registered Lab
1. Supplements that are Safe Quality Food Certified
Safe Quality Food (SQF) is a highly credible and rigorous program that provides a high level of food safety and quality, and is widely accepted by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers throughout the world. As an industry-recognized food safety and quality standard, the SQF family of codes is designed to meet requirements of industry, customers, and regulatory agencies across all sectors of the food supply chain.
2. Supplements that are GMP Compliant
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) final regulation on good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements, companies that manufacture, package, label, and maintain dietary supplements must meet stringent requirements. Dietary ingredients and dietary supplements must be evaluated for identity, purity, quality, strength, and composition as required by the rule. Dietary supplement GMPs are vital to the supplement industry's ability to deliver safe, accurate-label products to consumers and to achieve public health benefits noted in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.
3. Supplements that are Produced in a NSF Registered Lab
NSF was founded in 1944 with the mission of protecting and improving global health. Among NSF's services are testing, auditing, and certification of products and systems, as well as risk management information and education
Third Party Testing of Supplements that are Certified Organic
Shoppers who are interested in purchasing organic supplements should note third party testing of organic foods. In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which established the legal criteria for labeling and selling organic raw or processed agricultural products in the United States. A food, dietary supplement, or other product that features agricultural products grown and processed in accordance with the OFPA is considered organic. If certain conditions are met, these organic products may bear the USDA Organic seal. There also should be a statement on the product label declaring that the product is "100 percent organic" or "organic." and all such products should honestly identify their certified organic ingredients on the product label.
Learn More About Third Party Testing of Supplements
Visit Health By Principle to find certified organic, safe quality food, and GMP compliant nutritional supplements produced in a NSF registered lab. Health By Principle supplements are independently verified.