Once again, alarm bells have gone off over the quality and safety of the foods we eat.
Government-mandated recalls of food and food-related products are on the rise.
Recently in January 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recalled a cake product because of an undisclosed milk ingredient. The CFIA warned that for people with an allergy to milk, eating the product could cause a severe or life-threatening reaction. The same week, the CFIA also recalled a smoothie because of consumer-reported illnesses associated with it. The CFIA pointed out that the smoothie contained raw elderberries that, when ingested in large amounts, could cause cyanide poisoning.
The Challenge for Consumers
Some contaminants, unacceptable adulterants, or inaccurate labelling of products may occur because of ignorance or by accident. Still, the financial stakes are high in food production, and unquestionably there are some companies that peddle fraudulent and lesser-quality products for profit. Therefore, the core issue for consumers is INTEGRITY in the food and dietary supplement industries. In this situation, the dictum applies: Trust, but verify.
Testing the “Trust, but Verify” Solution
Regardless of the reason for contaminated, adulterated, or mislabelled food products, the solution is always the same: testing, testing, testing.
- Rigorous testing throughout the entire process of field-to-table food and nutritional supplements production protects consumers. Testing is critical at every juncture in the supply chain as there could be as many as three or more different companies that process a single product from field to shelf.
- Testing protects the consumer, the integrity of the industry, and trust in companies and their hardworking employees.
- Testing also exposes inferior, fraudulent, and contaminated products.
The Science and Technology
The development of testing technology has made outstanding strides in its application to the food and supplement industry, and companies that are serious about the quality and safety of their products have adopted it. Leading-edge certifying organizations like ISURA® use a combination of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, such as mass spectrometry, which can detect up to 800 known pesticides, solvents, and heavy metal contaminants at the level of parts per billion (ppb). This same technology can confirm the product’s authenticity, and identify unwanted adulterants and undisclosed ingredients, ensuring that the label is accurate and the ingredients are actually in the product or bottle.
Products certified and tested by ISURA meet or exceed international standards set by organizations such as:
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Health Canada: NNHPD (HC)
- United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
- Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)
- American Botanical Council (ABC)
- United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- European Union (EU)
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia
Certifying Organizations Need Audits, Too!
What about the integrity of the testing and certifying organizations? They, too, should be regularly audited for ISO 9001 quality management systems, and their laboratories should be ISO 17025 accredited for specific laboratory methods. Testing organizations that are regularly audited will post this information on their websites.
The Consumer Solution – Trust, but Verify!
As consumers, we deserve clean wholefood and dietary supplements free from contaminants for ourselves and our families. We can actively advocate for safer food and vitamins at both the macro and micro levels by voting with our wallets. How? When buying food, choose reputable local farms, and organic, non-GMO produce. When looking for vitamins and dietary supplements, choose products with the ISURA seal. If a retail store does not carry products with the ISURA certification, urge them to do so or find a retailer that does.
The safety, quality, and integrity of our food and dietary supplements are paramount to a healthy planet and ultimately to each of us. When joined, consumers can significantly impact companies for good.
Let’s use our influence to ensure the integrity of both the food and supplement industry.
trust, but verify.