AHPA developing assessment programme for botanical agricultural, collection and manufacturing best practices

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is developing an assessment programme for its recently adopted Guidance on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices for Botanical Materials

Several AHPA members have volunteered to apply the portions of the guidance document relevant to their operations to draft, evaluate and implement an appropriate and relevant assessment programme to evaluate conformity with the guidance, on the basis of specific facilities or operations.

The initial group of participants represent herbal growers, processed ingredient suppliers, and extract manufacturers as a cross-section of the potential users of the guidance.

Agricultural and collection practices have wide-ranging impacts on product quality, native and regional communities, and the environment and AHPA members have long supported the need for best practices to be clearly described and documented.

This guidance serves as a template that growers, harvesters and processors can adapt to their operations and is designed for small and large producers.

The guidance and assessment programme will help the industry ensure that herbal raw materials used in consumer products are accurately identified, not adulterated with contaminants that may present a public health risk, and fully conform to all quality characteristics for which they are represented.

"By establishing standard operating procedures that follow these best practices, firms at every level in the supply chain will better ensure the production of good quality herbal raw materials," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "Every effort was made to identify current practices that might affect the quality and cleanliness of herbal ingredients."

The guidance is not a list of required prescriptions but rather a menu of options.

Users are encouraged to identify those sections of the document that are relevant to their operations, and should carefully review those provisions in light of their own circumstances and needs. After consideration, users should implement whichever recommendations are useful and practical for their situation.

This guidance document is intended to complement the empirical knowledge that has been passed down from preceding generations involved in the cultivation, wild collection, and processing of useful plants.

The industry is encouraged to give careful consideration to long-established practices in growing, harvesting and processing herbs.

The document is an update to and extension of a similar document initially issued jointly in 2006 by AHPA and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

The updated document represents minor revisions to the established good agricultural and collection practices portion, with the addition of the relevant portions of the US good manufacturing practices (GMPs) applicable to botanical crops used in food and dietary supplements.

AHPA encourages feedback on the guidance document, especially by growers, collectors and processors who use the guidance in their facilities and operations.