Consumers spend millions of dollars each year on dietary supplements – many times with almost zero assurance of purity or safety. Think about it... fancy packaging, shiny labels and big marketing campaigns don’t mean very much if what’s actually inside the bottle isn’t pure and potent.
Here’s the bottom line: you are paying for results! If your brand doesn’t have the necessary testing and quality control systems in place to avoid problems in the first place, you might be fooled... but your body isn’t!
What’s the big, hairy secret even some of the biggest-named brands don’t want you to know about their quality assurance process? (Hint: they usually don’t have a process). If they do happen to be one of the few that actually do, are they willing to share it with you? If not, why? The answer you don’t want to hear is, “We leave all that up to our manufacturer.”
90-95% of all products are produced by Contract Manufacturers and NOT the supplement company itself. You can verify this for yourself by simply looking on the label for statements like, “Distributed By” or “Manufactured For.”Therefore, the manufacturer they use is absolutely critical to the overall quality and effectiveness of their products... and the results you’re hoping for. So do your homework, but don’t be shocked if some flat-out refuse to reveal their manufacturer’s name and location!
The FDA’s new gold standard rating for high-level manufacturers is cGMP, which stands for “Current Good Manufacturing Practices.” It is the lowest designation you should ever accept as a consumer, regardless of how popular your brand might be. Don’t just take their word for it. Demand proof, such as copies of FDA reports, that shows they passed their most current inspection.
A reputable manufacturer will ALWAYS test any raw materials they receive, regardless of what a supplier may tell them. Their supplier’s word may be good enough for them, but is it good enough for you and your body? Here’s why: A Nutritional Outlook Study (conducted in April of 2000) found that more than 70% of manufacturers switched raw ingredient suppliers in 1999? 51.4% of them cited QUALITY as the number one reason why. That was only a few years ago; do you honestly believe things have really improved that much since then? In July of 2007, the FDA passed its strictest and most sweeping regulation program ever for dietary supplement manufacturers. What does that tell you?
Let’s face it -- quality control is usually the first to be cut when a company wants to increase its bottom line profits. Why? Because it’s incredibly expensive! In 2004 alone, almost $18 million of adulterated and mislabeled products were seized or destroyed.
Now try this one on for size -- in 2007, HFL (who handles testing and screening for the World Anti-doping Agency – WADA), conducted an investigation where they randomly purchased 58 various products types of the “best-selling” brands in the US. Using their specialized screening equipment, they discovered that “Approximately one quarter of the samples analyzed showed the presence of low levels of steroid and/or stimulant contamination that were not declared on the label.” (‘Investigation Into Supplement Contamination Levels In The US Market’ – HFL, Authors: C. Judkins, D. Hall, K. Hoffman).
At the very minimum, responsible companies should always have their products tested to guarantee they meet label claims and are not contaminated, regardless of the expense. It’s even better to also have them screened by an independent source. Demand they provide Certificates of Analysis as proof. Need I say more?
It’s one thing to create quality standards and hope your manufacturer follows them, but it’s another to know for a fact they’re being followed to the letter. Make sure the company you buy from visits their manufacturer at least once a year to ensure they fully comply with their brand standards. Also, be sure to ask for documented proof of the results of each audit.
Before any drug can be tested on humans, toxicology studies must first be carried out in vitro or on animals to guarantee their safety. As the name implies, these studies help to assess at what levels chronic toxicity may be reached. They also look for potentially dangerous side effects.
Unfortunately, toxicology studies are NOT currently required for nutritional supplements. So stick to brands that are willing to pay for such tests.
**(HINT: So far, there has only been one – All American EFX!)
Next time, I’ll answer these same questions as they apply to All American EFX.