Responsibly sourcing botanicals: still far to go to full sector co-operation

Responsibly sourcing botanicals: still far to go to full sector co-operation

Even though botanical industry players are increasingly more willing to participate in transparency surrounding their products, we are only in the beginning stages of full sector co-operation, and there is still a long way to go before everyone is concerned.

Adulteration is not always deliberate and the traceability is only one of several critical factors to control. Unfortunately, there will always be confusions and errors linked to a lack of knowledge, and intentional falsifications will likely continue to evolve as fraudsters have a reputation for being one step ahead every time. In our opinion, European organisations have not been doing enough to overcome adulteration challenges in comparison to the United States, who have been quite involved. Our industry has only started to partially answer the regulations requests. A lot of sourcing, traceability and relevant controls can still be implemented to improve action towards prevention.

The industry and the regulatiors are not the only two bodies responsible for the quality of the plant products on the market. It is also the laboratories’ duty to develop and offer relevant control methods and adapted support for the former two. BotaniCert, for example, was founded with a goal of improving knowledge on plants and using it to support the actors of the domain. For that, it developed several unique tools and a relevant methodology. BotaniCert tries to communicate as much as possible to all the relevant members (regulations, industry and other labs) to raise awareness about the importance of controlling their products.

Even though we are seeing a good start to improvement when it comes to tackling adulteration, there could still be errors and confusion, and the lack of control after sourcing could cause other dangers. Sourcing cannot be dissociated from transparency, laws or controls. Only a unified combination of these will help overcome the errors -- whether they are confusions or falsifications. The cornerstone of this organisation would be knowledge; it really is the key to help the regulators in editing relevant restrictions and recommendations, to help actors know their products, and of course to offer adapted control methods to verify before finally reaching customers.

To source appropriately is not that easy. The plant names, the hybridisations, the origins of the species, the botanical confusions and even the control of such can be sources of mistakes for sourcing. We need more experience and knowledge and it is our principal objective and role as a laboratory of experts to support companies in their research for security and quality.

Editor's note

Julien Diaz (quality control manager at BotaniCert) will be speaking at the Adulteration and Fraud of Botanical and Natural Health Ingredients workshop in, which will be focused on issues, challenges and prevention tools for the industry. Interested in listening to his workshop on 'Adulteration of Essential Oils: Cases, Issues, Challenges, Solutions' as well as 'Laboratory Tools to Prevent and ASsess Adulteration of Botanicals' among many others? Register for the workshop taking place over 29-30 November in Frankfurt, Germany. 

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