FWD 2 AOAC International Endorses the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

International standards-developing organization offers support for botanical quality control initiative

(AUSTIN, Texas, June 10, 2015) The AOAC INTERNATIONAL® (formerly known as the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists) has endorsed the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. The endorsement follows a unanimous vote by the AOAC Board of Directors in April.

The Botanical Adulterants Program is an international consortium of nonprofit organizations, analytical laboratories, professional scientists, healthcare practitioners, industry members, and others that educates and provides advice about the various challenges related to adulterated herbs, botanical extracts, and other botanical ingredients in commerce.

Founded in 1884, AOAC International has grown from a US government agency establishing methods for chemical analyses for agricultural fertilizers to an international association of government, academic, and industry professionals encompassing a wide array of scientific disciplines. The work of the organization focuses on the creation, validation, and publication of reliable analytical test methods for food, beverage, dietary supplement, and ingredient safety and purity. AOAC’s mission, as detailed on its website, is “to attain the vision of ‘worldwide confidence in analytical results.’” The organization also publishes the bi-monthly Journal of AOAC International.

The Botanical Adulterants Program is a coalition of three nonprofit groups: the American Botanical Council (ABC), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), with more than 165 other American and international parties supporting and cooperating with the Program. Adulteration refers to the accidental or intentional substitution or dilution of a material with an undisclosed, usually lower-cost, ingredient, thereby giving the consumer a false sense of the value or quality of an ingredient or product containing such an adulterated ingredient.

AOAC Board President Erik J.M. Konings, PhD, and Executive Director E. James Bradford, PhD, notified ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal of the organization’s endorsement of the Program in a letter dated April 21, 2015. “AOAC International’s industry partners represent a broad spectrum of interests, including dietary supplements and natural products,” Drs. Konings and Bradford wrote. “As such, we encourage efforts which aim to strengthen the industry using responsible and science-based approaches in communication and education.

“AOAC supports The Botanical Adulterants Program’s focus on educating industry, researchers, health professionals, regulators, and other interested parties with respect to the confirmation of types of adulteration and evaluation of analytical methods,” they continued. “We look forward to a long relationship with the American Botanical Council and the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program.”

“We are deeply grateful and highly honored to have AOAC’s endorsement and participation in our Botanical Adulterants Program,” said Blumenthal, who is also the general manager of the Program. “AOAC is one of the world’s most highly respected standards-setting bodies, and their recognition of the goals and educational activities of our Program will help us move further towards increasing the international impact of our educational efforts.”

“The endorsement by AOAC of the Botanical Adulterants Program [BAP] continues the global recognition by scientific bodies that this program has received,” said James Neal-Kababick, director of Flora Research Laboratories and Fellow of AOAC. “[T]he pharmacognosy world [has] a stake in the problems, [and] AOAC has been tapped to help address some selected clandestine adulteration in dietary supplements as well as economic adulteration…. Understanding how to ensure that adulterated material is not released into the food supply chain is critical and the BAP is making major inroads with its collaborative teamwork.”

AOAC joins leading groups of medicinal plant research scientists that have already endorsed the Botanical Adulterants Program, including the American Society of Pharmacognosy, the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA), and the Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada.

The Botanical Adulterants Program was also previously endorsed by US health practitioners groups including the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, the American Herbalists Guild, and the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium, as well as the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Recognizing the international nature of adulteration, several organizations outside the United States, including the Irish Register of Herbalists, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and the British Herbal Medicine Association, have also offered their support.

Domestic and international industry trade associations have also endorsed the Botanical Adulterants Program. These include the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association, and the United Natural Products Alliance — all in the United States — as well as the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations, the Australian Self Medication Industry, Complementary Medicines Australia, the Australian Tea Tree Oil Association, and Natural Products New Zealand.

The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program has published extensively peer-reviewed and referenced articles on the history of adulteration, adulteration of the herbs black cohosh  (Actaea racemosa) and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and adulteration of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) fruit extract and so-called “grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) seed extract.” These open-access articles are available on the Program’s webpage.

The Program also publishes a quarterly newsletter, “The Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” which highlights new scientific publications related to botanical authenticity and analysis to detect possible adulteration, recent regulatory actions, and Program news. Issue #4 of the Monitor, due for release in June, contains summaries of new research on Ginkgo biloba adulteration in commercial products, authentication of Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil, and a survey of raw Rhodiola crenulata material in China, among others.

In January, the Botanical Adulterants Program released its first in a series of Laboratory Guidance Documents to help industry and third-party analytical laboratories determine the most effective analytical methods for detecting adulteration and authenticating botanical raw materials and extracts. The first of these was published on skullcap, an herb subject to documented adulteration. Additional publications from the Program, including Laboratory Guidance Documents on bilberry extract and black cohosh, are scheduled for release in the coming months.


About the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

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 165 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.