Scientific Journal Publishes BAPP Staff-written Article Detailing Adulteration Schemes Used to Fool Commonly Used Laboratory Analytical Methods

The scientific journal Acta Horticulturae has just published a paper entitled “Botanical ingredient adulteration – how some suppliers attempt to fool commonly used analytical techniques”.1 The article is part of the proceedings of the International Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, held at the 30th International Horticultural Conference of the International Society on Horticultural Sciences in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018.

The paper is co-authored by ABC’s Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, and partners and collaborators of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP): natural product chemist John Cardellina II, PhD; botanical expert Steven Foster; National Center for Natural Products Research Director Ikhlas Khan, PhD; and American Herbal Pharmacopoeia President Roy Upton. The paper is based on a presentation by Dr. Gafner at the symposium. It covers aspects of the work and publications by BAPP from its inception in 2011 to 2018.

The article describes how unscrupulous producers of adulterated and fraudulent botanical ingredients intentionally create extracts that are designed to fool or trick prevailing laboratory analytical methods. In the paper, 15 different botanical ingredients are used as examples to show how UV/Vis spectrophotometry, gas chromatographic approaches, and high-performance liquid chromatographic methods can be fooled into falsely authenticating fraudulent materials – a significant problem in the international medicinal plant ingredients market. The abstract of the paper can be accessed free of charge. BAPP is one of ABC’s major areas of commitment to the world of herbal medicine with efforts to help reduce and eliminate adulteration and fraud in the marketplace so that millions of consumers can continue to access reliable medicinal and aromatic plant products made with authentic ingredients.

Emphasizing the need for robust quality control methods is particularly important during the current global COVID-19 pandemic, when shipment delays combined with sharp increases in demand have caused shortages in the supply of certain botanical ingredients. In such a scenario, it is predictable that unscrupulous suppliers and sellers of botanical and fungal ingredients will attempt to take even greater advantage of the need of industry procurement staff to urgently fill inventory gaps. The result is often an increase in availability of fraudulent ingredients. As such, ABC and BAPP hope that the newly published paper is a helpful resource for dietary supplement manufacturers and suppliers to assess the adulteration risk and put appropriate analytical tests in place to avoid being deceived by sellers of fraudulent ingredients.

ABC and BAPP also emphasize that there are many responsible, reliable companies in the global marketplace that sell properly identified and authenticated botanical and fungal ingredients and manufacturing companies that purchase such properly-qualified ingredients for use in consumer health products.

To date, BAPP has posted 61 additional BAPP-written, peer-reviewed articles, bulletins, laboratory guidance documents, and Botanical Adulterants Monitor newsletters that are free-access on the BAPP homepage.Reference

1. Gafner S, Blumenthal M, Foster S, Cardellina II JH, Khan IA, and Upton R. Botanical ingredient adulteration — how some suppliers attempt to fool commonly used analytical techniques. Acta Hortic. 2020;1287:15-24. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1287.3