It is a pivotal time for nutrition companies across the world as more and more people take aim at making healthy living a priority. As the nutrition and vitamin industry rapidly expands, manufacturers are rushing to keep up with the pace of product demand.
Peter Chang is Vice President, Quality Assurance and Control at Herbalife Nutrition.
Unfortunately, many laboratories and facilities operate in isolation and seldom receive independent technical evaluation to measure their compliance and performance in manufacturing. Increased product demand should never jeopardize high standards for quality and now more than ever, manufacturers must be transparent and consistent in their processes.
So how can nutritional products manufacturers achieve product quality, consistency and transparency?
In order to achieve this goal, a company must start with the sourcing of high-quality ingredients and continue through the meticulous production and advanced testing of every finished product. Once a company has made the decision to achieve these high standards, having the process, products, laboratories, and scientists certified and accredited by independent, third party organizations, such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), is vital to helping customers trust the company’s commitment to quality.
The commitment to quality and achieving the goal of consistency and transparency is by no means a quick or inexpensive endeavor. Those who embark on meeting these goals will need to make significant investment in laboratories, testing equipment, facilities, ingredients and scientific talent, to ultimately meet the rigorous testing standards and facility compliance audits set by ISO and NSF.
For example, at Herbalife Nutrition, the program begins with the cultivation, collection and processing of ingredients, then blending them with other ingredients and finally packaging the blended powders into finished package containers. At each factory, raw materials are quarantined upon arrival and sampled for Quality Control testing. Materials are only released for production after passing a comprehensive set of Quality tests. Quality Assurance personnel monitor the process by checking critical steps in production by utilizing state-of-the art analytical equipment to ensure product quality and uniformity.
Some examples of the latest analytical technologies and laboratory instrumentation to analyze raw materials and finished products that a nutritional company would make include equipment and instruments such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC’s), Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for DNA testing.
So why is certification and accreditation important for nutritional companies?
When a company is able to secure ISO17025 accreditation, it means that the company adheres to strict standards for the technical competency of laboratory scientific personnel, the accuracy of microbiology and chemistry testing methods, and the validation of equipment.
ISO17025 accreditation also gives the company confidence in its procedures and provides extra assurance to consumers that the company’s laboratory tests are very accurate and reliable. And while this accreditation is not required, companies committed to the goal of quality, consistency, and transparency should seek to achieve the ISO17025 high standards that will go a long way to create an industry standard on behalf of consumers.
Similarly, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), an accredited, independent third-party certification body, performs regular on-site audits of facilities. NSF conducts tests of federally regulated Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP’s) and certifies that products made at a facility are produced consistently and in accordance with the applicable regulations, ensuring that products continue to meet specifications and label claims.
In summation, companies should begin to adopt the philosophy that they need to operate through a policy of continuous improvements, and laboratory accreditation provides an additional mechanism for independent benchmarking. With ISO accreditation and NSF certification, customers can be confident that a nutrition company’s products and facilities meet international standards for product quality, testing and safety.