From the Desk of George Pontiakos

Adulteration of Products

Collectively we have the most geographically diverse and difficult supply chain I have ever seen. Sourcing raw materials globally, both agricultural and manufactured is immensely challenging, especially when one factors in the range of sophistication, cultural differences, and time to market pressures we encounter in our world.

The Procurement professionals in Nutrascience are the first and candidly the only line of defense we as an industry have right now in ensuring that specification compliant, safe, and efficacious raw materials enter our delivery chain. Yes, specifications, quality audits, research and development are all integral to success, but in the end it is the buyer who issues the purchase order for delivery.

The weakest aspect of our industry in my opinion is the legacy mindset of stovepiping ownership of sourcing responsibility. Marketing sees an opportunity, R&D specifies a product, procurement sources, quality audits and rarely are the goals of each internal organization aligned. The continued enchantment of purchase price variance instead of total cost of quality is the singular point of failure that has not been adequately addressed to date. We, all of us, have a vested interest in seeing our businesses grow and provide value to the consumer, risking our collective wealth vehicles on adulterated and poorly processed raw materials is simply unacceptable. The ownership of sourcing professionally managed suppliers is everyone’s responsibility. Rejections, line down conditions, fulfillment issues, recalls, customer service support are all far more costly than the differential in kilogram cost of a correct product.

All of that leads me to opine on the continued blatant adulteration of raw materials by a segment of the supply chain who maintains the philosophy that it is the buyers job to police and test, and that it is cheaper to provide a discrepant product that may get rejected than a compliant one. A philosophy that is greed driven places the customer and consumer at risk and focuses our industry in the continual cross hairs of those in government who want greater regulation.

So take an interest in what you are buying. Here are some of the more common adulterated botanicals:

A simple eyeball check of the C of A on Black Cohosh and Bilberry for country origin can provide a quick check. If it is Chinese sourced, you are buying an adulterated product. Testing methodologies for Goldenseal are well documented. Extracts are more of a chemistry project, so proceed with extreme caution on your choice of supplier. Does your supplier claim to be a distributor when in fact he is a manufacturer? Blending and processing your raw materials without rudimentary process sheets, MSDS documents and basic hygiene? Check your quality history, many of you will be stunned to learn that your “trusted supply partner” is hosing you, exposing your company to a number of ills.

Every day we have an opportunity to improve our industry. Thank you very much for the overwhelming majority of professionals who take this charter to heart. Have a great 2012.