By David Humphrey President Kirkman Group, Inc.
The growing popularity of botanicals, has prompted nutritional supplement manufacturers like Kirkman to expand their use of herbal ingredients and botanical products offerings.
We did not expect, however, to encounter the difficulty we’ve had in finding “clean” herbals, in fact, many of the herbal samples sent to us by both suppliers in the U.S. and foreign countries have contained multiple contaminants at potentially harmful levels. Obviously, we don’t accept these for use in our products.
What causes additional concern is regulatory oversight of botanicals that currently does not prohibit certain environmental contaminants that can be harmful to human health. At least there are some guidelines to test for 4 heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead) and certain microbial contaminants in nutritional supplements for humans. There are no government requirements, however, for testing nutritional supplements for pets.
Botanicals and herbals are more prone to being contaminated than other types of supplement ingredients because they are grown in the ground, and nurtured by air and water where environmental contaminants exist.
China, for example, is among the most polluted countries on the planet, yet many if not most of the herbs offered in the U.S. marketplace are grown in China. High levels of lead and arsenic are routinely found in herbal products coming from China.
In 2015, the attorney general of New York pulled herbals off the shelves of retail giants Target, Walmart, Walgreen’s and GNC because four out of five herbal products did not contain any of the ingredients that were on the products’ labels. Having extra, unidentified ingredients or not having the ingredients claimed on the label are problems becoming more and more commonplace with botanical/herbal supplement products.
So beware of botanicals. Make sure you are buying product from reputable vendors that can provide you evidence that their products are safe and pure.
Kirkman® has the most comprehensive program of testing for environmental contaminants in the industry so we can thoroughly screen raw materials that we use in our products. Kirkman® tests its products for 24 heavy metals, bacteria, yeast, mold, bacteria such as salmonella and enterococcus and common allergens such as egg, gluten, casein, milk and nuts. Kirkman® strictly follows its Ultra Tested® protocol to test for more than 950 environmental contaminants and to ensure that what is on our label is in our product.