FWD 2 Botanical Adulterants Monitor


Dear Reader

The actions of the New York State Attorney General (NY AG) continue to have an impact on the entire supplement industry and the herbal dietary supplements industry in particular. As a reminder to readers, the NY AG conducted an initial investigation into botanical dietary supplements based on DNA barcode testing results that did not show the presence of DNA of the labeled species in the majority of cases. This prompted his office to send cease-and-desist letters to GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart, demanding that they halt sales of popular store-brand herbal dietary supplements. On March 27, 2015, an agreement was signed between GNC and the NY AG allowing the same products previously described as “posing an unacceptable risk to New York families” back on the shelves after the NY AG declared in the agreement that “results of this [GNC’s in-house] testing likewise indicate that the tested supplements were manufactured consistent with FDA cGMP requirements.” ... MORE

  Stefan Gafner, PhD
Chief Science Officer, ABC
Technical Director, ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

Recent News 

AOAC INTERNATIONAL®, NHPRS, HKBU, AIHM, IHPC, and IRH Endorse the Botanical Adulterants Program

AOAC INTERNATIONAL, a globally recognized, independent, third-party, not-for-profit, and voluntary consensus standards-developing  

... MORE

ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program
Second Laboratory Guidance Document, Bilberry, to be Published by the Botanical Adulterants Program 

The bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, Ericaceae) extract Laboratory Guidance Document, containing a review of 35 chemical methods to authenticate bilberry 

... MORE


White Paper Reviewing Analytical Methods for the Evaluation of the Identity, Purity, Strength, and Composition of Botanical Dietary Supplements to be Released

This extensive document, written by James Neal-Kababick (Director, Flora Research Laboratories, LLC; Grants Pass, OR) and Roy Upton  

... MORE

ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program Welcomes New Supporters and Underwriters

The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program is grateful for the support of the following companies

... MORE
ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

Regulatory Alerts

New York Attorney General Signs Agreement with GNC Requiring Use of DNA Barcoding as a Quality Control Method for Botanical Dietary Supplements

As noted in the previous issue of the “Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” on February 3, 2015, New York Attorney General 

... MORE

Industry Alerts

Alleged Cranberry Adulteration

The Botanical Adulterants Program was alerted by Nutra Canada (Champlain, Quebec, Canada) about 

... MORE


Upcoming Events

Below are descriptions and links to some of the upcoming conferences, seminars, and workshops that may be of interest to learn more on adulteration.

AHPA-AHP Workshop on Botanical, Macroscopic, and Organoleptic Assessment of Herbal Ingredients for cGMP Compliance 
Portland, OR: June 15th – 16th, 2015

... MORE

Previous Issues of “Botanical Adulterants Monitor”

Available here.

Science Update

Focus on Ginkgo biloba Adulteration

Part I: DNA Barcoding Confirms that Commercial Ginkgo Products Contain Ginkgo biloba

 Little DP. Authentication of Ginkgo biloba herbal dietary supplements using DNA barcoding. Genome. 2014;57(9):513-516.

Consumer health products containing extracts of Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgoaceae) are among the most popular herbal products worldwide. The authors of this study used a DNA barcoding approach to identify G. biloba plant material unambiguously and to verify the presence of G. biloba in dietary supplements purchased in retail stores in the New York area and online. ... MORE 

Part II:  A Validated GC-MS Method to Characterize Ginkgolic Acids in Ginkgo biloba Plant Material and Dietary Supplements

 Wang M, Zhao J, Avula B, Wang YH, Avonto C, Chittiboyina AG, Wylie PL, Parcher JF, Khan IA. High-resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method for characterization and quantitative analysis of ginkgolic acids in Ginkgo biloba plants, extracts, and dietary supplements. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(50):12103-12111.

The ginkgolic acids are a group of compounds that, together with cardanols and cardols, represent the alkylphenols found in Ginkgo biloba leaves and seed coats. These alkylphenols are considered to be a safety concern due to their structural similarity with urushiols, the allergenic compounds in poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, Anacardiaceae) and poison sumac (T. vernix), and due to cytotoxic effects found in in vitro studies and immunotoxic effects in a mouse model. 
... MORE 

Authentication of Australian Tea Tree Oil by GC-FID Using Enantiomeric Ratios of Terpinen-4-ol and alpha-Terpineol

 Wong YF, Davies NW, Chin S-T, Larkman T, Marriott PJ. Enantiomeric distribution of selected terpenes for authenticity assessment of Australian Melaleuca alternifolia oil. Ind Crops Prod. Ind Crop prodI 2015;67:475-483.

The essential oil from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae), a tree native to Australia, is commonly known as tea tree oil (TTO). The oil is a popular ingredient due to its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory activities. Adulteration of the oil, in which cheaper synthetic material or volatile compounds obtained from other plants are added intentionally, has become a significant problem for the producers of authentic TTO.  ... MORE

The Influence of Boiling Time on the Quality of DNA in Ginseng Decoctions

 Lo Y-T, Li M, Shaw P-C. Identification of constituent herbs in ginseng decoctions by DNA markers. Chin Med. 2015;10(1):1. doi:10.1186/s13020-015-0029-x.

In this paper, the usefulness of DNA barcoding for authentication of plant materials used in decoctions is discussed. In the experiment, 10 g of powdered Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng, Araliaceae) was boiled in 200 mL for 30, 60, and 120 minutes. In addition, two multi-herb decoctions were prepared consisting of (a) Asian ginseng and aconite (Aconitum carmichaelii, Ranunculaceae) and (b) a combination of Asian ginseng with bai-zhu atractylodes (Atractylodes macrocephala, Asteraceae), Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Fabaceae), and ginger (Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae).  ... MORE

A Survey of Commercial Crude Rhodiola crenulata Raw Materials in China

Xin T, Li X, Yao H, Lin Y, Ma X, Cheng R, Song J, Ni L, Fan C, Chen S. Survey of commercial Rhodiola products revealed species diversity and potential safety issues. Sci Rep. 2015;5:8337. doi: 10.1038/srep08337.

The roots and rhizomes of rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea, Crassulaceae) are widely used in Western phytotherapy, and according to the European Medicines Agency Community Herbal Monograph, a 65-70% hydroalcoholic extract can be used for temporary relief of symptoms of stress, such as fatigue and signs of weakness.1 In the United States, other species sold under the accepted common name “rhodiola” include R. algida var. tangutica and R. kirilowii.2 In China, the only rhodiola species accepted in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia is hong jing tian (R. crenulata), which is considered to invigorate the blood, free the pulse, and calm panting. ... MORE


Useful Links and Resources

For more information and updates on the work of the three partner organizations of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, please visit ABC at www.herbalgram.org, AHP at www.herbal-ahp.org, and NCNPR at www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr.

Other Helpful Resources and Links

AHPA Botanical Identity References Compendium:

Chinese Medicinal Plants Authentication Centre:

European Commision's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed:

... MORE

About the

The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program is a consortium of independent nonprofit organizations whose mission relates to education, scientific research, and quality of botanical dietary ingredients and related plant-derived materials. The consortium is headed by three nonprofit groups dealing with education and research on medicinal herbs and other beneficial plants: the American Botanical Council, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. The program is underwritten or endorsed by more than 130 natural products industry companies, independent analytical laboratories, contract research organizations, nonprofit and professional organizations, trade associations, accredited institutions of education in natural medicine, law firms, and media companies that are involved in the production, supply, manufacture, distribution, marketing, analysis, research, and/or education of herbal dietary ingredients and supplements, in the United States and internationally. All publications of the Program are available free-access on its homepage including the “Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” an e-newsletter that conveys Program news, regulatory updates, and recent scientific publications related to adulteration, contamination, identity, and authenticity of botanical raw materials, extracts, and essential oils. Companies, organizations, foundations, and/or individuals interested in supporting this program are invited to contact Ms. Denise Meikel, ABC Development Director, at (512) 926-4900, ext. 120, or by email.


Thank You to Our Supporters

Underwriters and Supporters of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program (as of June 8, 2015)*

Financial Underwriters
21st Century Healthcare
AdvoCare International L.P.
Agilent Technologies, Inc.
Aloecorp Inc.
Amen Clinics
Amway/Nutrilite Health Institute
Artemis International, Inc.
Atrium Innovations 
Aveda Corporation
Beachbody, LLC
BI Nutraceuticals
Bionorica SE
Botanical Liaisons
Cepham, Inc.
Chemi Nutra
CNCA Health
Crila Health
dicentra, Inc.
Doctor's Best
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
DolCas Biotech, LLC
Douglas Laboratories
DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.
Emerson Ecologics
Enzymatic Therapy, Inc.
Ethical Naturals, Inc.
Eu Yan Sang International
Flavex Naturextrakte GmbH
Gaia Herbs
GE Nutrients, Inc.
GNC, Inc.
Healthy Lifestyle Brands, LLC
Helios Corp.
Herb Pharm
Herbalife International, Inc.
Horphag Research
Indena USA, Inc.
Indfrag Ltd.
Ingredient Identity
Jarrow Formulas
Layn USA, Inc.
Markan Global Enterprises, Inc.
Martin Bauer, Inc.
MediHerb / Integria Healthcare
Metagenics, Inc.
Natreon, Inc.
Natural Alternatives
    International, Inc.
Natural Factors Nutritional 
    Products, Inc./Bioclinic
Financial Underwriters
Natural Grocers by Vitamin
Nature's Sunshine Products
Nature's Way
Naturex, Inc.
NBTY, Inc.
New Chapter, Inc.
The New Frontier Foundation
    Fund of the Greater Cedar 
    Rapids Community 
Ningbo Greenhealth 
    Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Novel Ingredients
NOW Foods
Nu Skin
Nutritional Laboratories
Ortho Molecular Products
Pacific Nutritional Inc.
Paragon Laboratories
Pathway International Pty
Perrigo Company
Pharmatoka SAS
Pharmavite, LLC
Phoenix Formulations
PLT Health Solutions, Inc.
Polyphenolics, Division of
    Constellation Brands, Inc.
Pure Encapsulations
Rainbow Light Nutritional
Rosenbush and Zimmerman
    Family Fund
RFI Ingredients, LLC
Sabinsa Corporation
Schwabe North America
Shaklee Corp
Standard Process, Inc.
Strategic Sourcing, Inc.
Thorne Research, Inc.
Traditional Medicinals, Inc.
Triarco Industries, Inc.
Univera, Inc.
Valensa International
V.D.F. FutureCeuticals
Verdure Sciences
Vitamin Shoppe
Whole Foods Market
Trade Associations
Australian Self Medication
Australian Tea Tree Industry 
    Association (Australia)
British Herbal Medicine
    Association (UK)
Complementary Medicines
    Australia (Australia) 
Consumer Healthcare Products
    Association (US) Council for  
    Responsible Nutrition (US)
International Alliance of 
   Dietary/Food Supplement
   Associations (IADSA)
Natural Products Association
Natural Products New Zealand
United Natural Products
    Alliance (US)

Nonprofit/Professional Associations
Academy of Integrative Health
    & Medicine
American Association of 
    Naturopathic Physicians
American Herbalists Guild
American Society of
Association of Official Analytical
    Chemists (AOAC
Council of Colleges of 
    Acupuncture and Oriental
Integrative Healthcare Policy
Irish Register of Herbalists
National Institute of Medical
Natural Health Products
    Research Society of Canada
Personalized Lifestyle Medicine
Society for Medicinal Plant
    and Natural Product
    Research - GA

Bastyr University
Boucher Institute for
   Naturopathic Medicine
Hong Kong Baptist University
National College of Natural
Southwest College of 
    Naturopathic Medicine
University of Bridgeport College    
    of Naturopathic Medicine
Third-Party Analytical Laboratories
Alkemist Labs
AuthenTechnologies LLC
Bent Creek Institute
British Columbia Institute of 
Covance Laboratories
Douglas Laboratories
Eurofins Scientific Inc.
Flora Research Labs
NSF International
Spectrix Labs
Tampa Bay Analytical


Delicious Living
Functional Ingredients
Holistic Primary Care
Informa Exhibitions US
Integrator Blog
Media Relations, Inc.
Modern Healthcare Practitioner
Natural Foods Merchandiser
Natural Products INSIDER
Nutraceuticals World
Nutrition Business Journal
Nutrition Industry Executive
Nutritional Outlook

Vitamin Retailer
WholeFoods Magazine

Law Firms
Amin Talati & Upadhye, LLC
Greenberg Traurig, LLP (James
Law Office of Holly Bayne, P.C.
Robert Forbes & Associates
Susan Brienza, LLC
Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, LLP 

Contract Research

KGK Synergize 

Research Institutes
Korean Ginseng Research 
Shanghai Research Center for 
    TCM Modernization/Shanghai 
    Institute of Materia Medica of the Chinese Academy of 
*By acknowledging the generous support of these companies and organizations, ABC, AHP, and NCNPR are not endorsing any ingredients or products that may be produced or marketed by them.
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