The supplement industry is plagued by, to put it mildly, trust issues. So it stands to reason that transparency is a big buzzword these days—or as supplement manufacturer MegaFood refers to it, “Big T Transparency.” Although it is a regulated industry, many companies play fast and loose with safe manufacturing practices. To wit, a Consumer Lab report that stated that in 2016, over half of the manufacturers inspected by the FDA violated good manufacturing practices.
As the supplement industry matures and the information superhighway continues to expand, customers want to be sold on more than the supplements potential benefits. People now want to know—even demand to know—the larger story: how the pill is made and where the ingredients are sourced. In short, the new emerging protocols for dietary supplements are transparency and traceability.
Transparency: The new bedrock of a brand’s identity
Making headlines in the media are supplements that contain fillers, pesticides and harmful chemicals. Quality concerns are real—and violations are rampant. Manufactures who want to differentiate themselves from the supplement riff raff have started taking steps to address the issue.
Here are three ways to assess whether a manufacturer is going the extra mile toward full disclosure.
1. Implementing frequent testing
While testing varies from ingredient to ingredient, best practice is to test raw material delivery as well as every batch of finished product. Even better is if the testing is done by an accredited third party. According to a recent New Hope Network report, “Modern testing techniques include high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry and other chemical reaction tests and DNA tests, although that methodology is still being refined.”
2. Unpacking the supply chain
Just as consumers want to know the backstory of their food, they want to know the same thing about their supplements. Supply chain integrity looms large and those raw-material suppliers jumping on the bandwagon are going to greater lengths to ensure Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and get third party quality certifications.
3. Leaving clear traces
Connected consumers want to know not just the what and where of a supplement’s raw materials but the how. How are the supplements made? Are the farming methods sustainable? Sustainability certifications, such as Organic, non-GMO and B corp carry a lot of weight with consumers, as proof of the manufacturers commitment to quality and traceability of ingredients.
Leading by example
Some supplement companies have already started cutting edge transparency initiatives. MegaFood, for example, has a live camera where you can watch your supplements being made. New Chapter sports no less than seven certifications on their website, ranging from Verified Mushrooms to 100 % Wild Caught Fish Oil.
In 2010 Gaia launched their Meet Your Herb, the industry’s first, and at that time, the only, traceability program. In 2015 the program relaunched, and you can enter the ID number located on the back of any of their products to view all the traceable aspects of each herbal component, tracking a formula’s ingredients back to the source.
Rainbow Light offers a purity safeguard, that tests finished goods in-house and via third-party labs to verify the purity and safety of their ingredients. In addition, all Certified Rainbow Light formulas are certified organic by Quality Assurance International.