Traceability and why it matters for you
February 17, 2023
In our quest to find the best, most nutritious foods for ourselves and our families, many shoppers have become more like detectives.
They carefully read ingredient lists, take note of where items were made and, if they are buying from local farmers markets, they often get to know the growers behind the food. In short, they are looking for a quality traceability process.
Shouldn’t we be just as curious when it comes to our nutritional supplements? An annual survey shows that three-fourths of Americans take dietary supplements.
They’re trying to make the best decisions they can for their nutrition. But this raises an issue: What do we know about the quality of those supplements? How were they made and what ingredients were used?
“You can read labels to find out what is in a nutritional product. But in a world where contamination and adulteration are real risks, you also need to know why it’s in there, where it comes from and how it was responsibly produced, so you can make informed choices,” said Sam Kilgore, manager of Supplier Quality Development at Amway, which makes Nutrilite™ products.
That’s where quality traceability comes in.
Traceability is knowing where products come from and how they are made. Sure, the label says those tablets, capsules or gummies contain various plant ingredients and vitamins, but we’ve also seen reports of food adulteration, food fraud and safety violations in the industry.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has a different oversight structure for supplements from what it applies to pharmaceuticals. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for the FDA to “approve” dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer.
Because nutritional supplements are not regulated in the same way medications are, it’s important to learn about the manufacturer. How do we know we’re getting what the label says? Increasingly the answer lies in a company’s commitment to meticulous, quality traceability and their willingness to openly show and share that story with its consumers.
Nutrilite founder Carl Rehnborg used pioneering organic farming practices when he first started growing Nutrilite ingredients for his supplements more than 85 years ago, tracing every action performed on each section of his farm to ensure the highest quality and most effective botanical ingredients.
Today, the Nutrilite team uses a detailed traceability process that starts on a certified organic Nutrilite farm or partner farm.* It tracks how the seeds for the plants that were used for Nutrilite ingredients were chosen, who sowed the them and where, what fertilizers were applied, when they were harvested and by whom, and how they were processed.
The careful record keeping continues when the Nutrilite ingredients are gathered for manufacturing. Nutrilite scientists perform a stringent set of quality checks, going above and beyond industry standards.
“When the materials come in, they’re moved into the sampling tent, and we actually have quality assurance staff who are on site down there in the warehouse, and we’ll use sanitary sampling methods to be able to take samples and then deliver those to the lab for testing,” Kilgore said.
The Nutrilite team performs more than 500,000 quality checks each year, searching for the tiniest traces of unwanted materials and conducting full food microbiology testing, including identification of microorganisms if detected.
“When you hold a Nutrilite product in your hand, you can know that there have been multiple scientists behind the scenes identifying and verifying the precise botanical ingredients in it,” said Jennifer Chuang, a senior research scientist for Nutrilite. “You can also know that those Nutrilite ingredients started as plants that were grown, harvested and processed in a clean, safe environment.”
For consumers, it is important to know where the ingredients in supplements are coming from with a quality traceability process. With that information, you can make the best decisions and feel good about the products we are buying for ourselves and our families.
* Products and ingredients are not organic unless indicated on the product label.
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