March 27, 2020

The use of herbal supplements has increased dramatically. But as sales and usage have increased, so too have questions concerning the authenticity and quality of ingredients. Economically motivated adulteration, quality, and safety of botanicals are issues that are a growing concern for producers and consumers alike.

This session at the 2020 AOAC Midyear Meeting focused on whole genome sequencing applications and genetic identification testing, which are showing great potential for verifying the authenticity of the botanical material with greater sensitivity than traditional approaches.

Dr. Ikhlas Khan, AOAC Wiley Awardee in 2018 and Director of the National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford, MS presented these in “An Introduction to Authentication of Botanicals and Current Challenges,” the first topic in the session. This was further developed by Dr. Jesse Miller, Director of the Applied Research Center at NSF International, who gave a private laboratory perspective on genomic applications for botanical authenticity.

Zhengfei Lu, Senior Analytical Scientist at the Quality Control Lab at Herbalife Nutrition, discussed an industry perspective on the use of genomic tools for botanical authenticity. Sara Handy of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, discussed genomic tools to support the safety of botanicals and combat intentional adulteration.

In the extensive Roundtable discussions, the consensus was that this technology is a very powerful tool  but is still somewhat in the development stages and can best be used in tandem with other analytical methods for authenticity testing.