Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West event in Anaheim, Elan Sudberg, CEO of Alkemist Labs, explained that there needs to be a continuous effort from labs to demystify testing for the industry.
“New technology is constantly coming into the game, and new players are entering the market, and they’re still new to this,” explained Sudberg. “There is also no standard test [for many ingredients]: Metals and pesticides are pretty straightforward and easy, but when it comes to identity and potency there are 55 methods to test for caffeine.”
Industry insiders have stated that there is a lack of qualified and competent quality professionals, a comment that Sudberg agrees with.
“We’ve found that there is a lack of quality QA and QC staff. Finding staff to be in our labs has been challenging,” he said. “You can go to school and learn chemistry, but there’s not a lot of natural products chemistry colleges out there – there are some, but not from the major universities.
“You can go and work for pharma and test the same chemical for six years straight, and then you may come to our lab and test 17 in the same day.
“Plus the new small companies entering this field are gobbling up whatever available staff there is, it’s been challenging to fill both of those roles in our lab.”
With concerns over “dry-labbing” and challenges hiring in-house QC-QA professionals, the need for trusted analytical labs, but where can a new company in the industry go to find out who is reputable?
“To the best of my knowledge there is no list of labs for this industry,” said Sudberg. “There are trade associations with lab members and that’s a good place to start because at least they are participating in the industry, but there’s no certification other than ISO accreditation, and that’s usually for a particular test.
“For that reason it’s challenging for us and our customers. A lab listing would be really great.”