Dry Labbing...

March 2012, Warren Matthews

Summary

Rather an odd 'heading' which I hadn’t heard of until a couple of days ago.  Apparently this is the term used by some people to describe the practice in which some laboratories doing testing for dietary supplement companies don’t actually do the tests at all!

Rather an odd 'heading' which I hadn’t heard of until a couple of days ago.  Apparently this is the term used by some people to describe the practice in which some laboratories doing testing for dietary supplement companies don’t actually do the tests at all!

Instead they claim they have the correct equipment for the testing and provide a report saying that the ingredient being tested meets the specification, even when they haven’t done the test.  In some cases this is done in collaboration with the manufacturer, sometimes not.

This was to be the theme of “Dateline NBC” in a story about the dietary supplement industry which was to have aired last Sunday the 18th March.  Not sure if it did go to air as we have not had any feedback as yet.

It is a real shame that some companies stoop to such low levels which brings the entire industry into disrepute.  The cost of testing is not that great relative to the overall cost of producing a product so there is no excuse for a manufacturer not doing proper testing…

With regard to labs that indulge in this practice, and manufacturers that knowingly participate they are nothing short of fraudulent enterprises!  Over time these companies will be weeded out as a good auditor will discover these practices. 

Finding good labs, as with finding good manufacturers is a time consuming business.  We spent many months researching reliable qualified labs.  We need multiple labs because we conduct many specialised tests and no one lab can do all of them as they require different equipment, or, in some cases they may have the equipment but they have not developed the validated methods to carry out specific tests.  This accreditation is either from a government agency, such as the FDA in the USA or Medsafe (Department of Health) in New Zealand or organizations like IANZ (International Accreditation New Zealand) or ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board/ACLASS in the USA who audit the Laboratories compliance with GLP’s (Good Laboratory Practice’s) and ISO standards.

In other words you may have a government approved lab (or in the case of one of the labs we use, a government owned lab) but it may not be setup to do certain tests.  We use seven labs.  Three in New Zealand, three in the USA, and one in Australia.  They have all proven to be reliable, ethical and accurate.  They are as follows:

  • Asure Quality - New Zealand
  • Cawthron - New Zealand
  • Hills Laboratories - New Zealand
  • Venture Laboratories - USA
  • Intertek/AAC  Laboratories - USA
  • Alkemists Laboratories - USA
  • Southern Cross University – Australia

How can you be sure I am telling the truth about these labs when you can’t call them and ask them if Xtend-Life is a customer due to their confidentiality policies?  If you have any concerns you can ask us and we can give you documented copies of recent tests they have carried out on our behalf.

Bottom line…you can rest assured that we do not cut any corners when it comes to testing (and we can prove it).  In fact, one of our QA staff spends most of his time taking samples, and couriering them to the labs and collating the results before the ingredient is released from quarantine providing it has passed all tests.

6 Comments

  • “There have been a number of issues raised above.  I will try to address all of them. Firstly, with regard to Rachella’s query about NZ regulations.  These are regulated as part of some quite old legislation.  There is a new bill going through Parliament at the moment specifically for dietary supplements.  This has been three years in the making and was developed in conjunction with the Health Ministry, consumer groups and the industry.  When it is finalised we are hopeful that it will lead as a model for other countries to follow.  In the meantime NZ manufacturers work under the food safety act and are subject to regulation and regular physical audits. For us here at Xtend-Life we follow the new US FDA GMP model for dietary supplements which is actually tougher than the proposed NZ regulations.  A lot of manufacturers in the US complain about these regulations as they consider them to be too tough.  For Dateline to claim that there are no regulations in this industry in the US is completely false.  All one has to do is go to the FDA’s website and you can see that almost every week a supplement company gets a warning letter because they are not complying and many have been shut down for not complying with the GMP rules. The regulations are there in the US, and they are good ones.  The problem is the enforcement of them and the dishonesty of many marketers in the industry who will use a contract manufacturer, market a product of questionable quality, make their money and move on to something else.  They have no investment in the industry either in plant, equipment or people and don’t care about the damage they do to the rest of the industry. The GMP rules are tough but in our opinion they are necessary.  The testing regime which is required for raw ingredients are crucial in order to make a quality product.  However, it does add cost, no argument about that, and this is why the majority of manufacturers still do not comply (I understand about 70%).  This is why the practice of ‘dry labbing’ has come about. Testing of raw ingredients is essential as is knowing and checking out thoroughly your supplier!  We vet any new supplier carefully and often do on site visits as well as lab testing.  Also, we are very suspicious of ‘cheap’ ingredients.  For example, we pay almost 10 times more for our grape seed extracts and grape skin extracts than many other manufacturers.  This is because we source these ingredients within New Zealand using a water extraction system.  However, many manufacturers, particularly contract manufacturers purchase on price so long as the COA looks OK.  Part of the GMP regulations are supposed to identify sub-standard ingredients. Bottom line…if all manufacturers were to comply with the current US FDA GMP rules there would be no programs such as those aired on Dateline.  The rules are there, they are good ones…compliance and enforcement is the problem.  Of course there will always be renegade manufactures as in any industry, or simply manufacturers who don’t have the resources to apply the rules. I do get frustrated with those in the industry who provide the ammunition for programs such as Dateline because of dishonesty or incompetency.  Christine…what Lee posted was a comment by a chemist in the US about the program.  It was not Lee’s own words.  The chemist had many of his/her facts wrong about not being able to buy supplements in those other jurisdictions.  For example, Japan consumes almost as many supplements as the US.  We also have an office in Thailand and know Asia well and a lot of supplements are consumed there. Rachella, with regard to Europe the supplement quality or manufacturing is not as well regulated as it is in the USA, but it is a lot more restrictive with regard to what ingredients you can use.  I was in Germany last week where we are preparing a version of Total Balance for the German market.  From a legislative point of view Europe is a minefield and in spite of an effort for harmonization many European countries are still doing their own thing.  ”

    Warren Matthews - March 23 2012

  • “I was under the impression that in New Zeeland the government is controling the dietary supplement industry, the same way as the drug industry is being controled in the US bt the FDA. Am I mistaken ? As you probably know, in the US the FDA is absolutely not controling the vitamin industry. That is why I was planning to become a client of Xtend-Life, and have even discussed your company and what seems to be your philosophy with quite a few of my friends. I have seen the program on Dateline and I was not even surprised. I don’t trust the the vitamin industry in the US. I believe that Europe is much more controlled in that field. Thank you for letting me know ”

    rachella - March 22 2012

  • “Lee’s 3/23/12 posting here states that America is the only civilized country where food supplements can be bought. I don’t understand that comment, when Xtend Life is a New Zealand company and supposedly food supplements cannot be sold there. How then is Xtend Life continuing to operate? Please advise?”

    Christine Arnold - March 23 2012

  • “I watched the program on Dateline NBC, and though I shook my head in disbelief, I wasn’t that surprised. There are not many companies one can trust these days….let alone government. There seems to be fraud around every corner, and the bottom line is always money! A company or government has to care more about people than money to keep them honest. Warren, I appreciate your upfront information you write about your company, and any problems pending. Honesty is always the best policy! I have been using Xtend Life vitamin and skin care for several years and have never had a problem. Keep up the great work and you have a great team working there. Sincerely, Cyndie ”

    Cyndie - March 23 2012

  • “Here is what one U.S. chemist had to say about the poorly done Dateline report: "On Sunday, March 18 the TV show Dateline did an article on food supplements with Chris Hansen. This is part of the government plan to eliminate all supplements. First, the media told people supplements were "useless" and had no value. That didn’t work. So, now they are telling people supplements are "dangerous" and should be "regulated". This really means totally and completely banned. Outlawed, not regulated. Did you know America is the only civilized country in the world you can buy food supplements? You can’t in Canada, NZ, Australia, Japan, all of Europe or all of Asia. Mexico and a few South American countries allow some to be sold. Food supplements are highly regulated. Overregulated, in fact, due to the asinine GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) scam. GMP is just worthless overregulation that raises the cost of production. All supplements must be made in FDA licensed and inspected laboratories. Batch samples must be kept and analyzed. Double safety seals used. Lot number and expiration dates printed on the bottles. Chris Hansen told Americans that, "this is completely unregulated, and is the Wild West" when it comes to manufacturing and selling them. They kept repeating that supplements are "unregulated" and "uncontrolled", and there were no rules, laws, or regulations for them. This is exactly the opposite of reality. Supplements are overregulated. They found one bankrupt, unscrupulous, incompetent company that sold a liquid mineral supplement. They used 200 mg (milligrams) of selenium instead of 200 mcg (micrograms) of selenium per dose. This is 1,000 times the amount needed. (There are 1,000 mcg in one mg.) The company is out of business and was sued. They did not have their product analyzed. They were outlaws. Folks, it is basically impossible to put 1,000 times the dosage into a product like this. They played it up though as if it happens every day. We have our supplements manufactured by Bactolac Pharmaceuticals in NY. They have two facilities and about 600 employees. They have been licensed by the FDA for a very long time. They get regular inspections. They keep samples of every batch. Every batch is analyzed. They have to use GMP procedures, even though they are ridiculous and just raise the price of the products you buy. The government wants to ban your supplements. Doctors and pharmacists hate supplements. They have been trying to ban them for decades. The pharmaceutical corporations are very large, very powerful, and very influential. The media is just an arm of the government. There is nothing independent about ABC, NBC, CBS, or Fox. There is nothing independent about the radio stations and print media. They are all just arms of the government. You will keep hearing, "supplements are dangerous". Then the FDA will step in, bypass Congress, and use the new NDIs (New Dietary Ingredients) regulations to phase out all supplements. Just like every other civilized country. Why? Because socialism and Marxism is about control for the sake of control. This has nothing to do at all with public safety. Under socialism the government literally controls and regulates everything people use every day. It has nothing at all to do with helping people, safety, security, or anything else. Americans proved they prefer Marxism when they overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Now they’re going to pay, and pay, and pay… And you and I will pay when we have no natural supplements and hormones to take. Only pharmaceutical drugs"”

    Lee - March 23 2012

  • “Tsk, tsk, tsk.  I think your QA department should also oversee your press releases. Case in point: "…released from quarantine providing it has past all tests." I would expect someone to at least proof read your text and not just rely on "spell check" which certainly should have caught "past" instead of "passed". This makes all press releases suspect as being self-serving!”

    Art - April 01 2012

Leave a Comment

Topics you might be interested in