Salient questions concerning the safety of Chinese materials used in nutritional supplements have arisen as a result of revelations in the news media discussing contamination of food products (e.g. pet food ingredients), consumer products (e.g. heavy metals in toys) and other commodities supplied to the world market by China. I must say, this is nothing new to those of us inside the dietary supplement industry, for quality of Chinese materials has been watched and monitored since the early 1980s when laboratories in China first began to exert influence in the raw materials sector.
At that time, vitamin C and inositol represented the first major phalanx to skewer domestic industry. Hoffman LaRoche in the first instance and A.E. Staley in both cases were most affected. Staley eventually completely abandoned production of inositol, forsaking their pre-eminent position in that commodity under the severe price competition from Chinese sources. When the quality of Chinese material proved to be the equal of Staley's, orders to the American manufacturer evaporated.
Since that time, we designers and marketers of nutritional supplements have witnessed a rapid improvement and expansion of Chinese raw materials. In the mid-80s, many (but not all) materials were flawed by the presence of heavy metals at unacceptable levels, or of unwelcome residue of herbicides or pesticides. But Chinese chemists and businessmen, who most often gained their higher education at western universities, were on a rapid learning curve. I believe they were, and are, driven to emulate the most successful western business models in order to gain honor, respect, dignity and affluence.
Globally conducted IQ tests have placed the Chinese on the top rung of the intelligence ladder. That brain power is exercised in the speed with which they have, very simply, "cleaned up their act," and expanded their reach into the global market for nutritional raw materials. Nowadays, fair consideration is due any Chinese manufacturer offering his its materials into the American marketplace where once, in the early 1990s, every material from China was suspect.
More recently, China has attracted increased investment from Europe. A major enzyme producer from Germany has built a new facility in China, staffed it with German executives, and has hired and trained Chinese personnel to produce the bulk of its raw materials. High level, high quality European botanical extraction firms have expanded into China too as the capacity of their older, smaller facilities in Europe became unable to satisfy exploding worldwide demand for their products.
The economies of the world are truly melding into one. The influence of foreign corporations within China, plus the tremendous facility of the Chinese to adapt and learn, has rapidly improved the quality of materials exiting China. This does not mean our vigilance should be reduced. But as each production cycle passes, fewer materials prove to be of substandard quality. How do we know? It is customary in our industry to have on file for each material full microbiological and heavy metal analyses.
Current Testing on Chinese Materials and other Imported Goods
In the case of Chinese (and other imported) materials, it is also customary for the importer/distributor in the United States to run separate microbiological and heavy metal analyses through an outside, American laboratory to confirm or refute the analyses supplied with the material. Current GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) also require both the corporate customer and manufacturer to run redundant identity, purity, microbiological and heavy metal analyses on the material. Ultimately then, a material that goes into a dietary supplement, whether it is from China or from somewhere else, will be tested by
1.)The raw material manufacturer
3.)The buyer (e.g. Vibrant Health)
4.)The manufacturer (e.g. the contract manufacturer employed by Vibrant Health.)
As a final check on quality, microbiological and heavy metal analyses are conducted on each batch of the finished consumer product. When GMP procedures are followed, inferior materials are prevented from entering the production cycle, and both quality and safety of the finished product is guaranteed.
The goal of Vibrant Health is to deliver improved health and well being to the consumer. It is evident that it would be foolish to select any materials that lacked the most complete certifications of quality if we are to realize our goal.
Vibrant Health was founded in 1992 on a bedrock of strong ideals and profound respect for each person we serve. We absolutely seek out the finest raw materials from the most reputable suppliers. Verification of quality and potency with full analyses is required. If we need some piece of analytical data that is not customarily supplied with a material, we will run the tests ourselves.
Our desire is to use domestic or European raw materials wherever possible; certified organic if available. Yet not everything we may require to fashion our superior formulations is being produced in the United States or Europe. The nutrition industry is now truly a global enterprise with materials of quality and value available from not only the United States and Europe, but also from India, China, Brazil, Nepal, Chile, Russia, and a host of other countries. The utilization of ingredients from around the world mandates that professional production standards be in place to both assure the quality of the finished nutritional product and its efficacy to the consumer. Independent laboratory analyses as described above assure that our materials are the best available.
In order to deliver both product quality and efficacy, Vibrant Health purchases and uses only fully verified and analyzed materials from reputable, “top tier” suppliers. GMP certified manufacturers, and GMP/Organic Certified manufacturers are employed to warehouse our materials and produce each finished product. Along the way, in-house GMP labs conduct quality control analyses at each step of the process. A finished product with the band name “Vibrant Health” attached is manufactured to the highest standards our industry can currently achieve.