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Agency issues new guidelines for testing supplement products

February 18, 2009 by  

National Institute of Standards and Technology has published a new reference material to improve the testing process of multivitamin pillsIn a move that may boost the quality assurance of dietary supplements, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has published a new reference material to improve the testing process.

The new Standard Reference Material (SRM) 3280 for multivitamin/multimineral tablets sets out guidelines to measure the amounts of vitamins, carotenoids, and trace elements in dietary supplements.

"We are not saying what a product should contain, but what it does contain," says Katherine Sharpless, a NIST chemist. "Our SRMs are intended for analytical chemists to use to make sure their methods are working properly, not a benchmark for what a good product should be."

The institute also plans to develop reference materials for fatty acids, caffeine, and other dietary supplements including ginkgo, saw palmetto, and bitter orange.

The SRM will also be used as a benchmark for researchers in their quantitative and qualitative analysis of vitamins and minerals content of samples.

Together with the Office of Dietary Supplements and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NIST is developing the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database.


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  • s c mailen, jr.

    This is utterly refreshing news. It is entirely possible that as long as their standards are higher than that of the government/AMA/FDA cartel (sadly, this is not much of a challenge), it will be a boon for the US. More power to them. God knows we need SOMEONE to help keep us healthy!

  • Bob Livingston

    Quality assurance in dietary supplements is good. And we have no reservations but I am always suspect of the FDA and the big pharmaceuticals whom they front for.

    If this leads to product testing and so forth like the big pharmaceuticals, it will be cost prohibitive and will be hard for the natural vitamin supplement business to survive.

    • Dirty Harry

      Unfortunately this days “We The People” can not trust our own government to do what they originally say. Just look at the first three months of this year. There is self serving politicians and appointed officials that are making huge power grabs. I simply do not trust any government agency anymore than I would trust the original producer. So it all goes back to “Buyer Beware”. Make your own best decision and don’t depend on someone else to do anything for you best interest.

      It’s so bad most people are even afraid to respond to bogs or write to a newspaper for fear of retaliation because you have to put name address phone number and email on correspondence.

      Where is the freedom – Where is the change ?

      • Bob Livingston

        I agree with you Dirty Harry. Bob

  • Robert Dallago

    Way before to government was so huge many industries governed themselves. Does Underwriters Limited ring a bell? People were getting shocked and killed from electric appliances. The industry set it’s own standard and “policed” themselves to advance the publics trust in there industry. That same happened in the automotive industry. Do you think the government invented safty glass? People were bleeding to death in auto accidents because of glass shards. The auto industry needed to gain the public trust fro there product so they in unison started many safety standards on there own.

  • V. Zeigler

    I tend to look with jaundiced eye upon anything that the federal government does “to protect me from myself”. That said, as long as the Standard Reference Material (SRM) 3280 is used as a tool, to enable supplement manufacturers to police themselves, I see it as a good thing. We do have to be ever vigilant, concerning the possibility of corruption and vested interests in any agency, especially as we witness the unhealthy alliance between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry, whose real purpose seems to be the elimination of competition, not the publics’ good.


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