NSP Quality Processes
NSP’s Quality Commitment
Nature’s Sunshine Quality
The Manufacturer Matters
Tour Our Manufacturing Plant (Part 1)
Tour Our Manufacturing Plant (Part 2)
Recent quality developments, new testing procedures and acquisitions inspire increased consumer confidence and brand loyalty.
NSF International Certifies Nature’s Sunshine Facility
NSF International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization and world leader in standards development and product certification, recently presented Nature’s Sunshine with the NSF Good Manufacturing Certification. NSF is a leading, third-party auditor of companies involved in the health and public safety sectors. Their certification of our manufacturing facility means we passed an extensive audit by NSF staff, including an examination of production equipment and a thorough evaluation of our policies and procedures and our manufacturing processes.
New Testing Procedures and Methods Mean Continually Offering the Safest Supplements
Salmonella poisoning seems to make the news every few months. It recently has made headlines in conjunction with peanuts, pistachios and alfalfa sprouts as it sickened hundreds of people. This led to an exhaustive recall of many tons of food along with health concerns. Of course, we cannot risk salmonella contamination in our raw materials or our finished products, so we test both for the presence of this tiny bug.
We also test our raw herb material for aflatoxins, a dangerous byproduct of fungus metabolism that can lead to illness, including liver damage. Sometimes fungus levels are undetectable in raw material. But if we use HPLC and test for the presence of aflatoxins, we can tell if fungus is present.
Last fall (2008), baby formula in China was found to contain melamine—a chemical that can boost apparent protein count in a tested sample. As a result of this unscrupulous action, over 50,000 children were sickened and four infants died. Many consumers worldwide switched to soy milk products. Shortly thereafter, soy products from China were also found to be similarly contaminated. NSP markets 68 products, including Phyto-Soy®, that contain soy or its derivatives. We rigorously test all of our incoming soy material to ensure that our products are free from contaminants.
An estimated 15 million Americans are gluten-intolerant. NSP’s new Ultimate GreenZone® formula is guaranteed to be gluten-free. NSP goes to great lengths to test for gluten in all of Ultimate GreenZone’s ingredients. This expensive testing ensures a safe product for our gluten-sensitive consumers. “Most other herb companies aren’t testing for this,” says Lynda Hammons, Vice President of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs. “But at Nature’s Sunshine, if the label says something about our product, we test for it personally.”
NSP Stays on the Cutting Edge of Technology
We purchased a new Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometer in January 2009. Our former ICP/MS was not broken or “outdated,” but the newest one offers brand-new technology that lowers our elemental detection limits and increases our dynamic range. It also has the added advantage of an octopole reaction system (ORS), which effectively eliminates potential interferences with certain elements like arsenic, selenium, chromium and iron. It’s price tag, $175,000, is just one example of our commitment to providing the finest quality products to our distributors and customers worldwide.
It Takes More Tests to Be the Best – An Overview of Quality Testing
Nature’s Sunshine has an amazing litany of instruments and tests at its disposal to guarantee our customers the finest quality supplements.
High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is used a great deal in testing both vitamin and herb products. HPLC can:
- Measure the active components in a vitamin.
- Measure the purity and potency of raw herbs that have standardized compounds.
- Help us verify label claims for vitamin and herb products with standardized amounts of active components like ginkgo (flavone glycosides), feverfew (parthenolide), St. John’s Wort (hypericin) and olive leaf (oleuropein).
Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) is used primarily to test herb material. TLC testing:
- Verifies correct plant species and parts (so you don’t get leaf when you want the root).
- Detects adulteration or contamination in an herb.
NSP scientists use Gas Chromatography combined with Mass Spectrometry to:
- Identify compounds in complex mixtures.
- Reveal the presence of unwanted elements, including pesticides and solvents.
- Analyze essential oils and ensure that they are of the proper origin and contain the proper components.
The Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometer (ICP/MS) is essential for testing mineral material. It can:
- Identify and quantify individual minerals in a mixture.
- Determine if raw materials contain unwanted minerals like arsenic, lead and mercury.
- Test finished products like Super Supplemental and Mega-Chel® to ensure their mineral content meets label claims.
Physical or Wet Chemistry is a term that applies to a collection of tests and procedures. These procedures provide critical information about raw materials, including:
- Evaluating moisture content in raw materials.
- Testing the purity and potency of amino acids.
- Assuring the raw materials will blend correctly and fit into a capsule or make a good tablet.
- Assuring that we can process the material correctly.
- Measuring disintegration and dissolution of tablets.
- Measuring capsule weights for finished products.
NSP uses Microbiology to protect against unwanted organisms. This category of testing includes several pieces of equipment that can:
- Detect organisms in raw materials or finished products, including pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella.
- Detect bacteria that can indicate spoilage in liquids and other products.
- Measure for the presence of yeast or mold in raw herb material.
In total, NSP has well over 600 different tests in its arsenal. And, “We develop at least 20 new methods per year,” says Ken Fugal, Director of R&D. “Our scientists are continuously developing new methods to evaluate and release raw materials and newly launched finished products to meet label claims.”