Top 5 Independent Supplement Testing Services & Labs

by | Focus, Supplements

Supplement company often bombard users with words such as:

“Verified”

”Certified”

”Approved”

”Tested”

”Safe” …. etc.

What do these terms mean?

We will cover them one by one but let’s talk about FDA and where does it fit in among all of this.

Does the US Food and Drug Administration Review all Supplements?

According to information from FDA’s website,

“FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.”

The user often makes the mistake of thinking that since its a “pill” or something general public takes to improve their “health,” it must be regulated by FDA.

Which is NOT the case.(1)

FDA’s website meekly talks about “safety” of the supplements but doesn’t talk about “quality” & “effectiveness” of the ingredients.

But, then how can general public know, which are the best quality supplements?

There are 3rd party testing services that are often used by manufacturers use to put consumers mind at ease.

The top 5 independent supplement testing services are:

  1. NSF International
    • NSF GMP for sport
  2. US Pharmacopeia (USP)
  3. TGA Approved
  4. IFOS & IKOS
  5. Consumer Lab

NSF International:

  • NSF was founded as National Sanitation Foundation in 1944 and changed their name to NSF International in 1990 as they expanded their services into global markets. The letters in their organization’s name do not represent any specific words today.
  • NSF certification symbolizes that the company carrying the mark comply with strict GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), standards and procedures imposed by NSF.
  • They conduct unannounced manufacturing plant inspections, a full rundown of the product development before a company can earn NSF Certification.
  • The products that earn NSF certification are said to be “NSF certified” or “NSF listed” & display NSF certification mark.

The products we offer have not only earned NSF certification, but they also have NSF GMP for Sports registration from NSF International.

NSF Sports certificate assures customers that the manufacturing facility is free of more than 180 substances that are banned or prohibited by sports organizations and found on the World Anti- Doping Agency’s Banned Substances List.

NSF Sports registration concurs and verifies that manufacturing facility has put controls in place to guarantee the production of clean supplements that athletes can rely upon

USP:

  • USP verified mark is obtained by manufacturers to showcase their commitment to producing quality products for the consumers.
  • USP mark on the dietary supplement label indicates that:
    • The product contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and quantity.
    • The product does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants such as heavy metals, microbes, pesticides, etc.
    • The product will break down and release into the body within a specified amount of time. It is essential so that the user gets the benefits of the ingredients.
    • The product has been made according to FDA’s GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) using sanitary and well-controlled procedures.

TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration):

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is equivalent to USA’s FDA (Food and Drug Administration). TGA is considered to be the most stringent regulatory agency in the world for the approvals. The conduct approvals at pharmaceutical-level standard.

  • Our supplements are TGA approved and abide by the highest standards.
  • The TGA regulates therapeutic goods through pre-market assessment, post-market monitoring and enforcement of standards & verifying overseas manufacturers with the same standards as Australian counterparts.
  • TGA develops, documents, implements, and reviews appropriate security measures to protect information from unauthorized use or accidental modification, loss or release.

IFOS & IKOS:

IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards Program) and IKOS (International Krill Oil Standards Program) are the only third-party certification and testing programs for krill and fish oils.

These organizations verify active ingredients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, test for environmental contaminants and other harmful chemicals that can be present.

They also test stability or shelf life of the product.

Almost all of our Xymogen’s OmegaPure Fish oils and OmegaPure Krill Oils are IFOS and IKOS certified. The products not only meet but exceed IFOS/IKOS standards and hold the highest five-star rating.

Consumer Lab:

Consumer lab’s mission is to identify best quality health and nutritional products through independent testing.

Consumer Lab tests product, whenever possible for:

  • CL checks if the product meets recognized standards of identity and quality as the manufacturer claimed on the label?
  • Strength: Does the product contain the amount of ingredient as the manufacturer claimed on the label.
  • Purity: Is the specified product, free of specified contaminants.
  • Disintegration: Does the product break apart correctly so the body may use all the ingredients and nutrients.

For the manufacturer to seek CL Seal of Approval, the product must be tested every twelve months based on random sample purchase on the open market.

How can warehouse temperatures affect the quality of supplements?

According to information by Consumer Labs (2), even in ideal conditions, vitamins and supplements degrade over time. BUT this process is accelerated when they are exposed to high warehouse temperatures, light, oxygen and/or humidity.

If you are buying supplements from an online retailer, who does not focus on supplements, the likelihood that they are not stored in a warehouse which is temperature & humidity controlled are higher. Even though degraded vitamins and supplements might not be unsafe to use, but you probably would not be receiving the 100% benefit you would get from the ones stored under ideal conditions.

In specific locations, warehouse temperatures can reach over 100F, therefore drastically degrading the quality, efficacy, and potency of the supplements.

Our supplements are stored in warehouses & manufactured in facilities that meet GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), and temperature & humidity is controlled to keep the supplements at best possible quality.

The humidity is crucial areas is reduced to as low as 15%. By lowering the humidity, the efficacy of the equipment operations is increased, and the potential of degradation of raw materials is reduced.

What is DSCSA: Drug Supply Chain Security Act?

Congress passed Drug Quality and Security Act, DQSA in Nov 2013 and Title II of DQSA, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), outlines steps to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.

The goal is to enhance FDA’s ability to keep better a handle on counterfeit, stolen, harmful or contaminated drugs and protect consumers.

Even though supplement industry is as not regulated as drug industry, we label each of our supplement bottles, therefore making it trackable.

How do you know, how many times your supplement bottle was returned to the retailer?

Majority of the online supplement retailers give the money back guarantee. Now imagine someone bought a bottle of Vitamin A and then decided they didn’t want it and sent it back.  

And to make things worse, the user might have stored the bottle in their cabinet, which most of us do. And now imagine they lived in areas like Arizona or Texas where the temperature gets very high, it could have weakened the quality of the supplement.

So, when you buy supplements from big online retailers, keep this in mind.

And to make things worse, the user might have stored the bottle in their cabinet, which most of us do. And now imagine they lived in areas like Arizona or Texas where the temperature gets very high, it could have weakened the quality of the supplement.

So, when you buy supplements from big online retailers, keep this in mind.

Conclusion:

When you buy supplements from the market, look for the third party testing approvals. And keep in mind how the warehouse temperature, humidity, etc. can deteriorate the quality of the ingredients.

If you have any additional questions, please do let me know in the comments section and I would be glad to reply.

References:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm
  2. https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/do-supplements-lose-effectiveness-in-the-heat/vitamin_temperature/
  3. http://www.usp.org/verification-services/verified-mark
  4. https://www.consumerlab.com/aboutcl.asp
  5. https://www.tga.gov.au/product-regulation-according-risk
  6. http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/what-is-nsf-certification
  7. http://ikosprogram.com/IKOS/Default.aspx
  8. http://www.nutrasource.ca/ifos/