Nutraceutical ingredients that frequently fail quality testing

Published: 14-Jun-2024

A list of 20 botanical and fungal ingredients commonly used in the nutraceutical industry that fail quality testing most often have been released

Alkemist Labs, a contract testing laboratory specialising in botanicals, has released a list of the plant and fungi ingredients that most frequently failed during identity testing throughout the first half of 2024.

The company states that there have been around 20 ingredients that have consistently been identified as problematic throughout the client base: 

  • Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)
  • Eleutherococcus senticosus (eleuthero, Siberian ginseng)
  • Ganoderma lucidum (reishi, Lacquered bracket)
  • Gynostemma pentaphyllum (gynostemma, jiaogulan)
  • Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane)
  • Malus pumila (apple)
  • Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
  • Nasturtium officinale (watercress)
  • Olea europaea (olive)
  • Rhodiola rosea (rhodiola)
  • Sambucus nigra (Elderberry)
  • Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto)
  • Siraitia grosvenorii (monk fruit)
  • Stevia rebaudiana (stevia)
  • Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
  • Trifolium pratense (red clover)
  • Urtica dioica (stinging nettle)
  • Vangueria agrestis (Hausa)
  • Vitis vinifera (grape)
  • Withania somnifera (ashwagandha)

Testing protocol

All were tested using High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) to assess identity and quality of botanicals and various ingredients. 

HPTLC is able to detect formulation contaminations, such as incorrect plant parts, closely related species, as well as unknowns. This technique is applicable to crude raw botanicals from powdered to whole form, extract (powdered or liquid) and finished product/blends.

This list is representative of the products Alkemist’s manufacturer clients are testing before they put them into their products as well as some finished products. 


The common appearances

Several of the materials on this list are making a repeat appearance, including eleuthero, Lion’s mane, apple, monk fruit, nettle, grape, ashwagandha — and the botanical that saw the most failures in 2023 — elderberry.

CEO of Alkemist Labs, Elan Sudberg, commented: “We encourage brands to be especially careful sourcing these materials, as well as ensuring that those sourcing such ingredients are familiar with the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Programme. Companies should implement policies to deal with serious quality issues before they need it.”

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