Asian countries - and in particular China - have come onto the scene as suppliers of low cost raw materials for the dietary supplements market. While in some cases this has had serious repercussions for US and European companies who have been unable to compete on price, some companies have preferred to stick with Western suppliers since they tend to have more stringent systems in place.
BI's vendor qualification program, called Protexx, should enable it to tap Asian resources (some of which cannot be obtained from elsewhere), without risking quality drop-off.
George Pontiakos, president and CEO of BI, put the quality issues with some Chinese material down to increased demand for dietary supplement ingredients and raw material shortages.
"We developed Protexx to ensure that we avoid any discrepant materials and continue to provide our customers worldwide with the high quality ingredients they have some to expect from us," he said.
The Protexx program will be run by the company's Asia Pacific arm, and includes guidelines on specifications, test methods, and product quality; audits of facilities and laboratories; random audits of tracability to ensure correct raw materials are used; sampling or testing to check specifications, either by BI or a third party lab; oversight of the suppliers' entire quality assurance and quality control programs.
Long Beach, CA-based BI already has similar programs in place for materials sourced from the US and Europe.Rupa Das, vice president of global quality & compliance told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the company has in the past experienced quality issued with Asian materials, for example adulteration inproducts to meet activity requirements, and different pesticide and heavymetal levels in different growing areas. He said that the company would expect to sever ties with any vendor that cannot meet our requirements during the implementation phase. "In fact, one vendor has already been disqualified for lack of GMP compliance based on our preliminary audit."