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False Advertising & Label Claims in the Dietary Supplement Industry

Nutritional Products International (NPI) has written an article on false advertising and label claims within the dietary supplement industry.

According to this recent article, the dietary supplement industry is growing at a rate of 7-10% per year in the US. With this growth, the number of different dietary supplements available on the market also continues to increase. As consumers continue to purchase supplements in order to help solve a variety of health issues and to improve general health, it is more important than ever that any claims being made are accurate.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulate any health claims being made. Any false advertisement or inaccurate label claims being made for dietary supplements are picked up by these authorities. Any company found to in breach of applicable regulations can face consequences of a class action lawsuit and even fines. Read the full article here.

In the UK, food supplements are regulated under the food law, which falls under the Food Safety Act of 1990. The Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS) provide really useful information on the regulation of food supplements (see the link here).

The general advice is to contact your local authority and specialists to ensure that any advertising or label claims meet all relevant regulations. As well as this, laboratory testing of your product will help you ensure that what is written on the label is actually present within the product. Laboratory testing can also ensure that any prohibited or undesirable ingredients are not present.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the safety and the quality of your products are of the highest standard. Introducing various analytical techniques can be a useful part of your quality control regime to help reach this goal.

If you need your label claims on your dietary supplement or nutraceuticals confirmed via laboratory analysis then contact us today.

Stability Testing of Supplements

Stability studies are useful tools to help you understand the stability of your supplements over a given shelf life.

Here at ICNE Ltd., we can help you manage all of your stability testing requirements. Read more about stability testing in our Stability Testing Guidance document for supplements by clicking the image below:

ICNE Stability Testing Guidance

If you are interested in stability testing on your supplements then contact ICNE today on 01253 737009 or email

Importance of QC Testing in the Herbal and Botanicals Industry.

A recent article in Nutraceuticals World, ‘Reviewing the state of the Herbs & Botanicals Market’, by Danielle Rose, focuses on topics such as understanding the market, new trends, challenges and quality control issues. In particular, this article looks into adulteration of raw materials and finished products in these markets and ways in which this can be controlled.

Raw materials testingThe dietary supplement industry regulations can vary from one country to the next. The lack of strict regulations could potentially lead to adulteration or mislabelling of products. As there is not one defined set of regulations to ensure harmony between different countries, self regulation is very important for quality control.

Due to competition in these markets being high, companies want to gain business by reducing the cost of their products whilst also increasing profit margins. This can sometimes lead companies to purchase the cheapest raw materials, which may be adulterated or ‘cut’ with other much cheaper materials. In many cases, the purchasers of the raw materials may not be aware that the purity of the raw materials may be compromised.

Testing is necessary to confirm to the industry and the consumer that you are, in fact, selling what you say you are’.

QC Testing The article encourages increased quality control measures with the aid of product testing. In being able to clearly state what you are selling, and by backing this up with the correct laboratory analysis, you will give consumers the confidence to trust your products and company and therefore win their business. In order to give complete and accurate information on the raw material, various types of analysis may need to be performed. It may be necessary to identify the product initially using ID tests such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), optical rotation, Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) etc. This could be coupled with a purity test for the active component using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), titrations etc, whilst running the sample alongside a certified reference standard for traceability, and a placebo or blank (sample containing no analyte of interest) to prove the method has no interference from other components.

It is always good practice to have a flexible risk based approach on a testing regime for each raw material or finished product. Part of this testing regime can be to set up product specific specifications, which would include results that you should be expecting from the analysis of the raw material.

As well as being an excellent review of the herbs and botanicals market, this article strongly encourages laboratory testing in order to ensure the safety and quality of any raw material being purchased. If you require any raw material or finished product testing for your quality control procedures, then contact ICNE on 01253 737 009 or email us at

To see the full Nutraceuticals World article, click here

Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets: Review and New Method Validation

ICNE Ltd has validated a new method: Vitamin C content in oral solutions / effervescent tablets. Read more below about Vitamin C and our new method validation.

Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets

Humans cannot biosynthesise vitamin C and we are also unable to store this in our bodies, therefore it is essential that we consume a sufficient amount of this vitamin regularly [1] [2]. Vitamin specific supplements are fast becoming more popular than traditional multivitamins, with vitamin C potentially being one of the most trusted.

Functions of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known to have certain functions in our bodies, for example:

  • Protecting and maintaining the health of cells
  • Maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
  • Promotes wound healing via biosynthesis of collagen (component of connective tissue).
  • Biosynthesis of L-carnitine and other neurotransmitters
  • and it is also involved in protein metabolism [1] [2]

As well as all this, there is currently ongoing research into whether or not vitamin C can have a preventative effect for cancer, cardiovascular disease and other diseases [2].

Vitamin C Deficiency

The RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake) for vitamin C is 25-30 mg per day for children and 35-40 mg per day for adults [3]. An inadequate intake of vitamin C can lead to scurvy which manifests in symptoms such as: fatigue, malaise, inflammation of the gums, poor wound healing and joint pain (among others) [2].

Sources of Vitamin C

Dietary sources:

Vitamin C can be found naturally in a range of fruit and vegetables, for example

  • Red and green peppers
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Kiwifruits
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries etc [1]

In a healthy and varied diet, you should be able to get all the vitamin C you need. However, in some circumstances (for example: smokers, people consuming a limited variety of food or people with malabsorption / chronic diseases), it may be necessary to take a food supplement [2].

Food supplements:

The Department of Health (DOH) [4] has listed the different forms of vitamin C that is permitted for use in the manufacture of food supplements, which are:

  • L-ascorbic acid
  • Sodium-L-ascorbate
  • Calcium-L-ascorbate
  • Potassium-L-ascorbate
  • L-ascorbyl 6-palmitate
  • Magnesium L-ascorbate
  • Zinc L-ascorbate [4]

The range of Vitamin C supplements available to the consumer is now quite extensive, all of which can be easily purchased at supermarkets, pharmacies, high street shops and online. Vitamin C supplements are available in the form of tablets and capsules and now even in gummies for children. One of the most widely available forms of vitamin C supplements is in effervescent tablets. There are several reasons why vitamin C effervescent tablets are popular, for example: they may be the preferred choice for people with dysphagia (swallowing problems), the market offers various palatable flavours, they are refreshing and can also help increase fluid intake.

Growth of the supplement industry and importance of label claim testing published an article last year where the growth of supplement industry was discussed. According to this article, the Central Europe supplement market is predicted to grow by 7.6% until 2020, and the UK supplements and vitamins market was worth more than £670million [5].

With the increasing demand from consumers for food supplements the competition for sales can be tough. Part of the competition will inevitably be down to consumer trust in finished products. Consumers want to know exactly what they are being sold and also want to be able to trust that what is included on the label is actually present in the product. This highlights the importance of manufacturers and suppliers verifying any label claims being made. One way of verifying the claims is by testing the products at an independent laboratory.

ICNE Vitamin C Method Validation

Here at ICNE Ltd, we have recently validated a United States Pharmacopeia (USP) method for measuring the Vitamin C content in oral solutions. This method allows a result which is directly comparable to the product label claim to be generated. We are currently carrying out a study, testing the label claims on commercially available vitamin C effervescent tablets. Keep an eye out for the results of the study!

If you are interested in vitamin C effervescent finished products testing, then contact us on 01253 737 009 or email


[1] NHS Choices, “Vitamin C,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 20 April 2017].

[2] National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin C – fact sheet for health professionals,” 11 February 2016 . [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 April 2017].

[3] British Nutrition Foundation, “Nutrient Requirements,” October 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 April 2017].

[4] Department of Health, “Food Supplements: List of Vitamins and Minerals which may be used in the manufacture of food supplements in the EU,” September 2011. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 April 2017].

[5] W. Chu, “What’s driving supplement growth? Ageing, fitness & self-care.,”, 17 February 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 13 April 2017].


Scientific Evidence and Popularity of health Supplements Infographic

It only takes a visit to your local supermarket, pharmacy, and health shop, or a quick search on the internet to see the vast number of health supplements available. The variety of health supplements is astounding, perhaps leaving many people wondering which supplements are worth taking and which have the higher efficacy.

An interactive infographic, ‘Scientific evidence for popular health supplements’, produced by David McCandless in September 2015 helps clarify this issue.

Supplement testing

The infographic shows a range of human supplements, where their positions on the graph are ordered by which supplements have the strongest evidence for their effectiveness. The infographic shows which supplements are backed up with the most or the least scientific research, as well as indicating how popular a particular supplement is. It also points out supplements that might not have a lot of scientific research to back it up, but do show some encouraging results and are “ones to watch”.

Each supplement can be selected to view notes and links to the lead study as well as showing all the supporting data. As there is access to all the supporting data and the option to filter the information, it makes it easy for the reader to investigate the efficacy of each health supplement.

How ICNE can help

If you are a supplier or manufacturer of health supplements, then ICNE Ltd can help with all your QC testing requirements. We use in house developed methods, pre-validated methods from the European, British and United States Pharmacopoeia, as well as AOAC. Here at ICNE, we also offer a laboratory testing management service, where we will organise all laboratory testing on your behalf where multiple laboratories are required. Contact ICNE for more information.

To see the full infographic, click here.

Growth of the Global Dietary Supplement and Sports Nutrition Markets

An article in Nutraceuticals World discusses a report from Grand View Research, Inc., regarding predicted market growth for the dietary supplement industry.

The global dietary supplement market was worth $122.08 billion in 2015 according to Grand View Research, Inc. Their report predicts that the global dietary supplement market is expected to reach $278.02 billion by 2024. Key findings from the report, highlighted by Nutraceuticals World, include expected increases in distinct market areas. Below are examples of the market areas set to increase, and reasons behind these predictions:

  • Amino acid based supplements – due to the increase of protein consumption by body builders and sports athletes.
  • Gel caps and soft gels – due to more applications in chocolates, sweets and desserts.
  • Asia- Pacific region – due to increasing awareness of natural products.

As well as dietary supplements, the sports nutrition product market in the U.S. and China is expected to rise to $37.16 billion by 2024. As stated in the article, there has been a recent increase in sales of sports nutrition products in the U.S. and Asia. This rise in sales is thought to be due to an increase in sports and fitness levels.

From these predictions of increasing market value, the dietary supplement and sports nutrition industry is obviously an interesting market place to be involved in. As sales of dietary supplements are set to grow, the requirement and importance of QC testing will inevitably grow with it. ICNE can help support all your rigorous QC testing requirements. Contact us to find out more.

Read the full article here.

N-Acetyl Glucosamine Supplement Overview

N-Acetyl Glucosamine is widely available in the form of dietary supplements to help alleviate symptoms of some diseases. It is generally a white, sweet tasting powder and is manufactured into tablets or capsules.

N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) is an amino monosaccharide with molecular formula C8H15NO6, and forms the building blocks of some carbohydrates found in nature. NAG is also a component of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans (i.e. hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulphate and keratan sulphate), which are all involved in the repair and maintenance of cartilage and joint function

Sources of NAG for use in dietary supplements

NAG monomers polymerise to form chitin. Chitin is thought to be one of the most abundant sources of carbohydrates and one of the most common sources of chitin, and therefore NAG, is crustacean shells.

Production of NAG for use in dietary supplements, can be by derivatisation of NAG from chitin. Acid hydrolysis is used to deacetylate and breakdown chitin into glucosamine. The glucosamine produced is then converted into NAG by chemical acetylation.

Therapeutic uses of NAG dietary supplements

It has been suggested that dietary supplementation of NAG may assist in a variety of ailments. For example, NAG may help to alleviate symptoms of joint damage in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cartilage damage and joint injury. It is thought that as NAG is a building block of proteoglycans, which are found within the matrix of articular cartilage, that supplementation of NAG may help rebuild damaged joint tissue.

It has also been speculated that NAG supplements may improve symptoms of irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. Inclusion of supplemented NAGs in the protective structure of the gut mucosa, may help to prevent inflammatory processes involved in these diseases.

NAGs have also been used in cosmetics in terms of rebuilding HA in the dermis to retain water in the skin, and for hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin production.

Laboratory analysis of NAGs

Here at ICNE Ltd., we use a hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) method to determine the levels of NAGs in dietary supplements. This method can be easily validated in a customer’s product. If you are interest in NAG analysis in dietary supplements, contact us today.



Chen, J., Shen, C. and Liu, C. (2010). N-Acetylglucosamine: Production and Applications. Marine Drugs, 8, 2493-2516. doi:10.3390/md8092493

ICNE Newsletter Launch

We have launched our 1st newsletter!

The newsletter covers the results from our customer satisfaction survey, the joint supplement study published in Nutraceuticals Now, and our review of the BRC standard for Agents and Brokers. Please click here to view the newsletter. To sign up to our newsletter, enter your email address at the bottom of this page.

For any further enquiries about our range of analytical laboratory services, then contact us on 01253 737 009, or

ICNE Article: Joint Supplement Study in Nutraceuticals Now

Nutraceuticals Now have published a study conducted by the ICNE team, in their Autumn 2015 issue.

The study investigated the accuracy of label claims for glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate in commercially available companion animal, equine and human joint supplements. As the nutraceutical industry has fewer regulatory requirements than the pharmaceutical industry, there is the potential for inconsistencies between the label claims on supplements and the actual levels of active ingredients.

ICNE analysed the amount of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate in randomly selected supplements, to see whether the levels truly reflect the label claims being made. In this blinded study, five different samples from each industry (companion animal, equine and human) were purchased and analysed. Samples from the companion animal and equine industries met their label claims. However, 40% of samples from the human supplement industry failed to meet the glucosamine content label claim, and 60% failed to meet the chondroitin sulphate label claim.

This study demonstrates that discrepancies between label claims and actual content can occur. It also highlights the importance of rigorous QC testing on raw materials and final products in order to ultimately provide the best quality products for consumers. Read the full study here.

If you would like discuss how ICNE can help to improve your QC regimes, and find out about the types of analysis we can provide, please contact us here.

New Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 show support for the supplement industry

An interesting article published by NutraIngredients-USA, provides a brief review of how the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, supports the concept of food supplementation. The Dietary Guidelines identify current eating trends in the United States and makes recommendations for a shift towards a healthier eating pattern. The guidelines also recognise that dietary supplements are useful in providing additional nutrients to aid a healthy diet.

In the NutraIngredients-USA article, Duffy MacKay, N.D., who is the Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at CRN, provides a statement of how these new Dietary Guidelines promote awareness of the need for supplementation.

NutraIngredients-USA also discusses the findings in the Dietary Guidelines, that there is a lack of seafood consumption in the United States. This can be linked to a low level intake of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which could be corrected with omega-3 supplements. Read the full article here.

If you supply or manufacture omega-3 supplements and need the levels of omega-3 fatty acids tested, then ICNE can help with all your laboratory testing requirements. Contact us here

News Categories

Latest Studies

Vitamin C Effervescent Tablet Study

20 June, 2017Posted by: ICNE

Our vitamin C effervescent tablet study shows that all the...

Read More

Companion Animal Joint Supplement Study

21 September, 2015Posted by: ICNE

Our Companion Animal Joint Supplement Study shows that all of the...

Read More