The event – which takes place on 29 – 30 November in Frankfurt and can easily be combined with Health & Nutrition Week and Health ingredients Europe – has been organised by botanical extracts supplier EUROMED and features eminent speakers from around the world with a special focus on the European Union. The programme contains five sessions covering the nature and magnitude of the problem; the risk assessment challenge; the response from industry; health implications; and tools to avoid and prevent adulteration.
When it comes to adulteration, a key challenge facing the herbal dietary supplement sector is the highly fragmented nature of the market. Shelves are often full of competing brands selling the same ingredient, which can lead to significant price pressure. This is as true globally as in the EU, where competition in the food supplement sphere is fierce, and awareness lower. “Adding a lower cost adulterant may provide an unethical supplier with a competitive advantage, while forcing more reputable companies into a position where they have to convince consumers to pay more money for higher quality products,” explains Dr Stefan Gafner, Chief Science Officer at the American Botanical Council (ABC), who will be speaking at the event.
“We don’t have reliable numbers on the extent of the adulteration in the herbal medicine and dietary supplement industry, but from what we know, the issue depends on the ingredient. Ginkgo leaf extracts, bilberry extracts, or materials labelled to contain cordyceps are among the most frequently adulterated ingredients based on current literature.”
What can be done? Dr Gafner notes that herbal ingredients used in Europe and elsewhere are often sourced from around the globe and most often are sold as powders or as extracts. Tight control of the supply chain and personal relationships with partners from farm to gate are therefore essential. He adds that companies that are ABC or trade organisation members are generally more aware of adulteration issues than those that are not. Involvement in the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) has also proved useful.
“An important aspect of BAPP is about building good relationships with other members of the herbal dietary supplement industry
to allow for a continuous exchange of information,” explains Dr Gafner. “Another key point is keeping on top of the literature, not only with regards to information on adulteration, but also with regards to analytical detection technologies.”
At this event, Dr Gafner, together with his colleague Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of ABC and co-founder of BAPP, plan to share their experiences of the initiative and touch on issues such as appropriate methods for testing. “We want to present the most recent data and adulteration cases to help industry stay informed,” says Dr Gafner.
Download the programme brochure here.
Other speakers at this event will include Professor Anna-Rita Bilia, President, Society of Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA), Italy, who will examine some of the challenges and solutions to preventing adulteration in herbal medicines; Patrick Coppens of Food Supplement Europe, a leading regulatory expert on Botanicals; Michel Horn from the European Federation of Associations of Health Products Manufacturers, who will focus on quality; Bauke van der Veen from EUROPAM (the European Herbs Growers Association); Joseph Novak, from the Institute for Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, and Agustin Villar and Anna Mulá, both from EUROMED.
The day-and-a-half event will be chaired by Ms. Heather Granato, Vice President, Content, Health & Nutrition Network.