AHPA calls for dialogue with ConsumerLab over testing methods

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ahpa

How much valerenic acid is enough?
How much valerenic acid is enough?
In the midst of a dispute over valerian product testing standards that has escalated into something far more rancorous, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has called on ConsumerLab.com to seek industry counsel over those very same standards.

AHPA president Michael McGuffin said it was unfair that so many ConsumerLab product reviews drew red flags for products, due to standards it arbitrarily employed.

“ConsumerLab is assigning its own standards in an unfair way and with a lack of transparency,” ​McGuffin said. “It is only hurting them. Perhaps a discussion with industry would allow more reasonable standards to be used.”

On the technical matter at the heart of the dispute about the measurement and reference of various valerenic acids, the AHPA emphasized ConsumerLab had misapplied European Pharmacopeia (EP) standards, due to the number of valerenic acids counted and their sources (dried versus fresh for instance).

“They made a mistake and this needs to be acknowledged,” ​he said.

ConsumerLab responds

Responding to the AHPA’s second statement on the issue, ConsumerLab responded today by standing by its testing methods and reaffirmed its call that AHPA retract its criticism.

We are disappointed that the trade group AHPA has yet to retract it's patently false and misleading statement of November 23 that some of the products that failed our tests of valerian supplements actually passed,”​ said ConsumerLab president, Tod Cooperman, MD.

“AHPA's mission is to represent and promote the herbal products industry. ConsumerLab.com mission is to help consumers identify the best quality health and nutrition products through testing. The question in our minds at ConsumerLab.com when we choose criteria for evaluating supplements is not ‘what are the minimum standards required by a manufacturer?’ but ‘what criteria best meet the needs of consumers, including our own families, who rely on our information?’”

It should not be surprising that the criteria selected by ConsumerLab.com often exceed the minimums chosen by the industry.”

Cut versus root

In a statement issued Monday, AHPA went deeper into the standards disparity by saying ConsumerLab had failed to provide references for the 0.17% level for valerenic acids it set out in the report and which matches the EP levels but only for rhizomes, roots, and stolons, and that it misapplied those levels.

This was because the level applied to sesquiterpenic acids calculated as the sum of valerenic and acetoxyvalerenic acids but from roots only, AHPA stated. In cut form the EP-designated level is 10% sesquiterpenic acids and ConsumerLab had also included hydroxyvalerenic acid.

"ConsumerLab appears to have arbitrarily chosen to apply the 0.17% standard to finished products made from any form of valerian root in their attempt to determine product quality,"​ stated Steven Dentali, PhD, AHPA's chief science officer.

"This is a misapplication of this EP standard for products made with cut or fresh valerian root, since that 0.17% standard is for dried, whole valerian root. In addition, unless a company claims to comply with the EP or another compendial measure, it may use other quality standards in the sourcing and manufacture of its valerian products."

But Consumerlab disputed the difference between dried and fresh sources of valerian.

“While AHPA claims that different standards should apply to cut versus dried whole herb, previous work conducted by Bos 1997 showed no difference in content in valerenic acids when comparing these two vastly different drying methods. ConsumerLab.com also found that there is very little written on fresh valerian root.”

Dentali added: "Any assumption that the levels of valerenic acids set by the USP or the EP for dried valerian ingredients should apply to a product made with fresh valerian root completely ignores the fact that neither organization has established a fresh root standard.”

US sales of the sleep aid were worth $68m in 2009 according to Nutrition Business Journal​, a 10 percent rise on 2008.

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1 comment

What is Consumerlab’s mission?

Posted by Marc Ullman,

: This article quotes Dr. Cooperman as stating that, “ConsumerLab.com mission is to help consumers identify the best quality health and nutrition products through testing”. I find this statement somewhat inconsistent with his sworn testimony of May 26, 2010 before the Senate Special Committee on Aging that companies that pay to participate in his company’s certification/testing program “own” the test results? This seems to be a clear acknowledgement that these companies can prohibit the publication of any unsatisfactory results, thus depriving the consumers Dr. Cooperman claims to serve of this information. I’d like to hear Dr. Cooperman explain how this practice is consistent with his claim that CL’s “mission is to help consumers.

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