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Industry News
December 8, 2011

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Vitamin Retailer News
Herbal Program Improves Retailers’ Customer Confidence

Bioforce USA (Ghent, NY) has been sponsoring scholarships for the AVI (A. Vogel Institute) herbal course on phytotherapy and human health. The course curriculum was developed by Jen Tan, MD, an herbal medicine specialist, in tandem with Bioforce AG researchers and published authors.

Bioforce USA said it has been encouraging participation because more mainstream consumers are turning to botanical supplements to support health and well-being.  Completion of the AVI course gives natural products retailers the ability to further distinguish themselves from the mass market competition by ensuring staff members have the expertise in phytotherapy needed to give their customers appropriate guidance.

The course can be done online or by mail and features 12 modules, each covering a specific body system. The course takes approximately 48 hours of work to complete, after which a certificate is issued if the student passes. Bioforce’s international phytotherapy experts developed the course, but it is not a course on Bioforce products; and the knowledge gained can help retailer staffers sell all botanical products.

“This course has really helped me in my understanding of herbs and how they can interact and work with my customer’s system and symptoms,” said Barbara Munford of Better Health Market (Granbury, TX), who recently finished the course. “I am more confident in answering questions about herbs, suggesting herbs to consider, as well as lifestyle changes. I am using some of the material from the course for training so my staff is benefiting from the information as well.”

For more information, contact Eileen Sheets at (800) 641-7555 ext. 100 or esheets@BioforceUSA.com.

Nordic Naturals: Freshness Test Flawed for Naturally Flavored Fish Oil

Nordic Naturals (Watsonville, CA) recently announced that it has been exploring a scientific methodology with hopes of establishing a new testing method for naturally flavored fish oil. This will solve a long known industry problem of inaccurate and misleading test results with regards to freshness. The company is in the process of delivering an innovative solution for manufacturers that will also alleviate confusion in the market.
 
“There is no established methodology for testing a naturally flavored oil because the addition of natural lemon or orange, for example, can create a false positive for anisidine (AV), an indicator of freshness, that then suggests that the finished product is not as fresh as it really is,” said Joar Opheim, CEO of Nordic Naturals. In order to address this, many manufacturers publish their pre-flavoring freshness values and not their finished product results.
 
“Trade organizations, such as the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), are addressing the industry’s voluntary guidelines that Nordic Naturals has long complied with. They are working on clarifying these guidelines to account for the technical issues related to testing finished flavored product so that this long-known issue can be resolved and new quality standards around flavored fish oil can be established.”

Because of this, confusion has ensued in the media and with consumers. For example, the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports reported “elevated levels of compounds that indicate spoilage in Nordic Naturals pills” when they tested one of Nordic Naturals award-winning, best-selling products. “Had the organization contacted us to let us know they were doing these tests, we would have had the opportunity to share very important and relevant information about testing naturally flavored oils,” noted Keri Marshall, MS, ND, Nordic Naturals chief medical officer. “Because the organization’s conclusion may be uninformed and incomplete, consumers could be led to question our product even though it has passed all other tests for quality that Consumer Reports included in their review.”
 
“For the past several months, Nordic Naturals has been developing a new procedure based on testing the fish oil prior to flavoring, then adding flavoring and testing, and finally removing the flavoring and testing for freshness again. We plan to announce our results early in 2012,” said Opheim. 
 
For more information, call (800) 662-2544 or visit www.nordicnaturals.com.

Organic Products Retailer News

Organic Tomato Juice More Beneficial Than Conventional

Organic tomato juice contains more phenolic components than juice from conventionally grown crops, according to a new study published in the journal Food Chemistry. The study was directed by Rosa M. Lamuela, a lecturer from the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology of the University of Barcelona (UB) and researcher for the Nutrition and Food Safety Research Institute (INSA) and the Spanish Biomedical Research Centre-Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn).

The research, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, brings new data to the debate over organic and conventional crops, from a study of polyphenols in tomato juice—particularly relevant as the tomato is the most widely consumed fresh and processed vegetable in Spain. According to Lamuela, "This is an innovative scientific study to determine the phenolic compounds found in organic and conventional tomato juice and their possible health benefits. Strangely, although tomatoes are consumed in large quantities across the world, until now only certain components with nutritional value had been studied, such as carotenes (lycopene), whereas little work had been done on polyphenols."

The team behind the study analyzed the total content of flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids in commercial tomato juices and revealed significant differences—undescribed until now—between the levels of bioactive components in organic tomatoes and the levels found in conventionally grown crops.

"The results could be explained by the defense mechanisms of plants according to the type of manure used in organic and conventional production,” explained the researchers. “In any form of cultivation, the most important factor for the growth of the plant is the availability of nitrogen. In conventional agriculture, the nitrogen can be added in soluble form, as a fertilizer, whereas in organic production the plant receives no artificial nutrients and therefore responds by activating defense mechanisms that increase the levels of polyphenols. As a result, conventionally grown plants can lose resistance to disease and present lower levels of nutrients, minerals and secondary metabolites."

"It should be noted that the study published in Food Chemistry only analyses the phenolic components present in tomato juice," said Lamuela. "And is part of a much wider project to analyze the factors that may increase the content of bioactive components in tomatoes and tomato products."

For more information, visit www.ub.edu/web/ub/en.

Nature’s Path Announces Winners of Gardens for Good Contest

Nature’s Path (Richmond, BC, Canada) has announced the winners of the second annual “Gardens for Good Grant” contest, which helps put organic community gardens where they will serve those who need them most.  The three non-profit organizations that are recipients of the grants are CAPI USA in Minneapolis, MN, GroW Gardens in Washington, D.C., and Oliver’s Garden Project in Hamilton, ON, Canada. 

“The Gardens for Good Grant” program is part of the Nature’s Path commitment to urban agriculture and aims to empower communities to take action and grow organically where they live,” said Arran Stephens, president and co-founder of Nature’s Path. “These organizations are making such a difference in their communities and we are honored to work with them,” he added. “Our goal is not only to provide organic food for those who might not have access to it, but also cultivate socially responsible community leaders who will bring people together to create positive change.”
 
Out of more than 90 entries from non-profit organizations making an impact at the local level, CAPI, GroW Gardens and Oliver’s Garden Project rose to the top. The winners were selected based on the location, reach, need, infrastructure and the feasibility of their plan. The organizations will each receive a share of $65,000 cash for their community garden project, a technical design and production mentorship provided by Organic Gardening magazine, a free organic breakfast community celebration and a donation of Nature’s Path products to help fill the pantries of a local food bank.
 
For more information, call (888) 808-9505 or visit www.naturespath.com.

Nutrition Industry Executive News

Supplement Industry Calls for Overhaul of NDI Draft Guidance

The dietary supplement industry’s trade associations—American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Natural Products Association (NPA) and United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)—joined together to call for an overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredient Notifications and Related Issues, which in its current form undermines both the letter of the law and the intent of the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act  (DSHEA) of 1994, according to the associations.

The Draft Guidance issued by FDA in July, if implemented and enforced by FDA, would burden industry, placing unreasonable requirements on business, especially smaller firms, and create unreasonable barriers of entry for newer market entrants, without any related benefits for consumers, according to the five industry trade associations. While the groups submitted separate comments to reflect their own membership priorities, the five associations stressed that FDA should focus on the common themes in their respective submissions, rather than look for points of disparity as indicating any substantive differences of opinion among the groups. “We are all committed to seeing a substantial overhaul of the draft guidance and are united in our common belief that the document is overreaching and contravenes DSHEA,” the five associations announced jointly.

Common key issues identified in the draft guidance by the trade groups representing the dietary supplement industry, if implemented and enforced by FDA, include:

  • Requiring submission of a notification for virtually every product that contains an NDI from every manufacturer
  • A shift in the burden of proof that an ingredient is not an NDI from FDA to individual companies
  • FDA’s claim that there are no authoritative lists of “grandfathered” ingredients that can be used to establish that a dietary ingredient is an Old Dietary Ingredient (ODI), which dismisses the relevance of “grandfathered” lists submitted by the trade associations in 1996-1998 for establishing that dietary ingredients are pre-DSHEA ingredients
  • Misinterpreting the meaning of the term ‘‘chemically altered,’’ which significantly expands the category of ingredients that would constitute an NDI
  • Stating that human synthesized constituents of botanical ingredients are different from those synthesized by the plant
  • Imposing a level of data necessary to demonstrate the safety of an NDI similar to what is required for food additives, a standard already rejected by Congress and the courts

Manufacturers and suppliers are supportive of the action. “We agree with the comments filed by the trade associations,” said Shaheen Majeed, marketing director for Sabinsa Corporation (East Windsor, NJ). “It is this consistent nature of comments that sends a clear message to FDA that the guidelines needs to be revised. We believe in the safety of these ingredients in the marketplace, so we welcome such guidance, however, we do not feel the current draft guidelines actually deal with safety, rather they reflect the lack of understanding on many points by the FDA.” 

“The trades really looked at it from the point of view that political interpretation could have limited what was written,” added Beth Lambert, CEO of Herbalist & Alchemist (Washington, NJ). “I think they gave really constructive responses to FDA.”

The trade associations call on FDA to carefully consider the comments to the docket it has received and to issue guidance that addresses these serious concerns. The associations also urged for a timely response from the agency to provide industry with clarity and direction as the industry attempts to comply with the requirements of the law, and the associations offered to work with FDA to achieve that goal. 

For more information, visit www.ahpa.org, www.chpa-info.org, www.crnusa.org, www.npainfo.org, or www.unpa.com.


ABC Publishes History of Adulteration

The American Botanical Council (ABC) announced the publication of A Brief History of Adulteration of Herbs, Spices, and Botanical Drugs by botanist, author, photographer and president of ABC's board of trustees Steven Foster in the Fall 2011 issue of HerbalGram.

In the paper, Foster provides an overview of the history of adulteration stretching back to Greco-Roman antiquity. Foster defines "adulteration" in the paper as "accidental, negligent, or intentional variations in identity, strength, purity, and expected outcomes from a named or at least implied identity of a drug" or food, spice, or dietary ingredient.

"We commissioned Steven Foster to write this article as we believe it is important to frame the issue of accidental and intentional adulteration of botanical ingredients in the historical perspective," said Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director. "It is essential for people to realize that adulteration is an ancient and ongoing practice: unfortunately, people have been cheating in commerce since the beginning of civilization!"

"I have found the topic of adulteration fascinating ever since I first encountered catnip stem-chaff left over from catnip seed harvest masquerading as catnip herb over 30 years ago," said Foster. "Proper verification and authentication of botanicals and plant parts entering commercial trade is of increasing importance to discerning consumers demanding high-quality herbal products to deliver expected benefits. Quality is not a marketing slogan; it is a consumer right."

The article contains historic illustrations and Foster's own plant photography. It was peer reviewed by five experts in the history of pharmacy and medicine and additional expert reviewers. The article is the first in a series of articles and white papers on adulteration of botanical materials used in foods, spices and food flavorings, dietary ingredients, drugs and cosmetics as part of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, a recently-announced consortium of nonprofit organizations and independent analytical laboratories headed by the American Botanical Council, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. 

For more information, visit, http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/R?i=bHCtQNGxGij_ri3Ayo738w.

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