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Quality Digest


NIST Issues Standard Reference Materials for Herbal Dietary Supplements

Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 22:00

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued the first set of standard reference materials (SRM) in a planned series for the assessment of botanical dietary supplements. The dietary supplement industry has exploded in the past decade to about 29,000 products, with about 1,000 new products introduced each year, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In 2001, NIST began working with the FDA and the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements on a series of SRMs for popular botanical dietary supplements. Manufacturers of these supplements can use these materials for quality control and researchers can use them to ensure the accuracy of supplement laboratory analyses.

The new reference materials were designed primarily for quality control of supplements containing ephedra, a plant once widely used in weight-loss products. Ephedra products were pulled from the market in 2004, but the new test materials remain valuable to ensure that new products don’t contain the substance and because they can also be used to improve several key elements in other botanical supplements.

Future dietary-supplement SRMs will include Ginkgo biloba, an herb that allegedly enhances memory and works as an anti-vertigo agent; saw palmetto; bitter orange; carrot extract; green tea; blueberries; cranberries; bilberries; and St. John’s wort, which is widely known as an herbal treatment for depression.

For more information, visit www.nist.gov.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.