Biotechnology concept with scientist in lab

The Meaningful Reason Why Herbalife Nutrition Expands Its DNA Testing of Botanical Ingredients

Gary Swanson, senior vice president, Global Quality, Herbalife Nutrition | Herbalife Nutrition​ | June 21, 2018

Have you ever wondered what’s in your favorite Herbalife Nutrition product? Yes, the ingredients are listed on the nutrition label, but how can you be sure it is accurate?

Herbalife Nutrition has invested a great amount of time and financial resources to quality control, from sourcing the ingredients, to DNA testing of the botanicals, to ensuring that the ingredients are authentic ingredients, to maintaining high-level packaging standards. Our testing methodologies and processes are certified by third party standard setting organizations, giving consumers the confidence that our products contain the ingredients that help our consumers achieve their unique nutrition goals. 

Since 2016, the market for botanical dietary supplement product industry has grown by 7.5 per cent a year and is expected to keep that pace well into 2021. However, confirming the authenticity of botanical ingredients can be challenging due to their diversity, complex mixture of natural phytochemicals, and technological advances in processing.

While Herbalife Nutrition has made the investment in testing ingredients, many others don’t have the resources to do so. That is why we partnered with The University of Guelph,a comprehensive public research university in Canada, leader in food science investigation, and global hub for DNA barcoding research. This is a research alliance and is designed to develop new, mutually agreed standards for the industry.

This Research Alliance consists of a $500,000 donation by Herbalife Nutrition to achieve the following goals:

  • Create new industry standards for botanical species ingredient authentication, as current standards rely on testing protocols that identify chemicals, not necessarily species in the ingredients.
  • Develop the Standard Reference Materials (SBRM) library for natural ingredients.
  • Produce a portable molecular diagnostic tool that can be used on-site by industry stakeholders, thus reducing the costs associated with species testing.

We will also provide the University access to our botanical identification database, and will offer Ph.D. candidates research opportunities within our laboratories. 

Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing in Changsha is a 234,000-square-foot botanical extraction facility in Hunan Province, China that supplies 2.7 metric tons of powdered botanical extracts per day. Over the years, Herbalife Nutrition has invested millions of dollars in research and quality control methodologies, and we believe the adoption of the standards that come out of this partnership will better the industry and will directly benefit the consumer.

That is why Herbalife Nutrition is committed to leading the industry in scientific research, transparency and accountability.  Therefore, we have also engaged in efforts such as:

  • AdoptingAloe vera (Aloe vera(L.) Burm.f.) in the American Botanical Council’s Adopt-an-Herb program, thus helping the Council to keep its extensive HerbMedPro database up-to-date for researchers, health professionals, industry, students, consumers, and all members of the herbal and dietary supplement community.
  • Partnering with United States Pharmacopeia and AOAC to develop official analytical test methods for the industry.
  • Purchasing next-generation sequencing equipment, including more than $1 million combined for a nuclear magnetic resonance imager, High Performance Liquid Chromatography, a gene sequencer and other technologies.
  • Diversifying our Genomic/DNA laboratory to improve our DNA analytical techniques for processed botanicals, including extracts.

We are one of the only nutrition companies in the world to have our own comprehensive program to completely characterize botanical ingredients.

We’ll continue to replicate and strengthen these endeavors because they reflect our ultimate purpose: to make the world healthier and happier by ensuring that our customers are getting the highest quality products that deliver results.