American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) > AHPA Resources > Technical Guidance > Scientific Affairs > Botanical Authentication Program

Botanical Authentication Program

About the AHPA Botanical Authentication Program

Producing quality herbal products is a challenging undertaking — a task that is guided by good manufacturing practices set by federal regulators as well as by individual companies' in-house standards and formulas. The manufacturing process begins with securing the correct ingredients that have been grown, harvested and processed properly. The challenge increases when ingredient supplies are compromised by mistakes in identity or, worse by those who intentionally mix in other substances. In such cases the ingredient would be misidentified, even if it did not pose a public health hazard.

Product manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the integrity of their products as federal law requires that all ingredients in a herbal dietary supplement be listed accurately on the label.

To help solve this challenge, AHPA provides its members and industry with tools to ensure ingredient identity and quality under its Botanical Authentication Program, which currently consists of three components: the identification of known adulterants; the development of analytical methods to ensure botanical identity; and training for quality control personnel, including hands-on seminars on microscopy and high-performance thin-layer chromatography.

Created in 1997, AHPA's Guidance on Known Adulterants identifies herbs and potential adulterants that are known to be in trade. The list identifies safety-related substitutions, such as Digitalis lanata leaf for plantain leaf (Plantago lanceolata), and safety- and economic-based substitutions, such as red dye #2 (amaranth dye) for bilberry fruit extract. The current list of articles of trade and their known adulterants is available on the AHPA website.

Also, under its Botanical Authentication Program, AHPA has developed methods of ingredient identification and has made this information available on its website since 2007. These methods include ones for a number of botanicals, a toxic constituent, and a supplement ingredient. You can reference these methods by clicking on any of the links at the top of this page.

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