The use of botanical (herbal) supplements has increased dramatically. In the U.S. alone, sales exceeded $8 billion in 2017. This represented an increase of 8.5 percent compared to 2016. With cannabidiol-containing supplements now becoming commonplace, these figures are expected to grow even larger.

As sales and usage have increased, so too have questions concerning the authenticity and quality of ingredients. The subject of substitutions, intentional or unintentional, has raised awareness for analytical methods with greater specificity and sensitivity. Macroscopic, microscopic and chemical analyses have been the principal means for verifying authenticity in the past, but each is limited in its capability to identify fraudulent or substandard materials.

Whole genome sequencing applications are being incorporated in many facets of food, feed and environmental safety and have shown great promise over the last few years in providing the analytical sensitivity and specificity needed for botanical authenticity.

The session is intended to describe the growing concern for economically motivated adulteration, quality, and safety among producers and consumers alike, and the potential whole genome sequencing applications can offer to alleviate these concerns. In addition, it will touch on the need for analytical standards to guide laboratory and bioinformatic workflow validation and the need for standard reference materials.

Discussion leaders

Ikhlas Khan
Director, National Center for Natural Products Research

Jesse Miller
Director, Applied Research Center
NSF International

Zhengfei Lu
Sr. Analytical Scientist, Quality Control Lab
Herbalife Nutrition

Sara Handy
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
U.S. Food and Drug Administration