“We are talking here about putting the industry’s best food forward,” said NPA CEO and executive director Dan Fabricant, PhD. Fabricant told NutraIngredients-USA that the program will help deflect criticism that the industry, and the sports nutrition sphere itself, is rife with rogue players.
Fabricant said Informed Choice’s certification program will help supplement manufacturers in the US minimize the risk of contamination with substances banned in sport by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The extensive sports testing program gives athletes the added confidence to know that the products they use to train and compete contain only the ingredients that are listed on the label.
The partnership will enable NPA members preferential access for their manufacturing facilities to become Informed Choice Certified Sites, enhancing the levels of quality assurance across the US supplements industry.
Growth of label
Fabricant said he expects this new partnership with Informed Choice will increase the number of Informed Choice Certified Sites across the US in a move to improve compliance with federal standards and protect consumers from products contaminated with adulterants. Fabricant said Informed Choice is the leading sports certifier on a global basis, with strong market penetration in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.
LCG Group, the parent company of the Informed Choice and Informed Sports labels, recently expanded its US-based testing capabilities by adding more space and equipment at its lab in Lexington, KY.
The expanded facility allows for faster turnarounds and the discrete chain of custody that is required, said Todd Branch, supplements team leader at the facility. Branch said the expansion included the purchase of new mass spectrometry equipment that can cost up to $500,000 per unit. But he said that level of precision was necessary to deal with WADA requirements, in which there is zero tolerance for banned substances. That amounts to a significantly more rigorous standard than typical product release testing for dietary supplements.
“It cuts through the muck of false positives,” Branch said.
Terence O’Rorke, director of business development in the sports and analytical services end of LGC, said the demand for the company's services has been driven by the Informed Sport program, which he characterized as the most rigorous in the industry. The program includes an initial site audit to verify that manufacturing facilities are up to GMP snuff, and also includes a test of every lot that wears the label.
“We know that the industry is appreciating our quality levels and what we are providing,” O’Rorke said. “Some of the larger brands are now using our seal, including GNC, Dymatize and Optimum Nutrition.”
Fabricant said the ‘preferential access’ amounted to something akin to a volume discount with Informed Choice. He said the details were confidential, but did say “there are business advantages to both parties. Our members can get testing and training done on a more economical basis,” he said.
Fabricant said Informed Choice’s reputation preceded it, and made the choice of LCG Group as a partner an easy one.
“NPA is the oldest and largest association and it was a priority among the membership to get a program like this in place. We want to build a network of the highest quality partners. These certifications are only as good as the people conducting the tests and we were confident of Informed Choice’s ability,” Fabricant said.