Archive September 2023
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Herbs in History: Hops & Grapevine
In an effort to preserve and share the fascinating histories of medicinal plants and herbs that have been used around the world for ages, the AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation) is honored to partner with Alain Touwaide, Ph.D., and Emanuela Appetiti of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions to tell the stories of Herbs in History.
Our first year of herbal history lessons is complete with a deep dive into hops and grapevine. Preview the entries below and visit Herbs in History online to read more.
Hops (Humulus lupulus L.)
Hops (Humulus lupulus L., Cannabaceae), with its flowers in cone-like catkins that give its bitter flavor to beer, almost automatically evokes the large copper tanks of breweries, the great variety of beers, from both the U.S.A. and Europe, the National Football League and its final, and also a friendliness that might be characteristic of beer. Is it only this? Or is there more? Now and in the past? | Read more...
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.)
The Most Noble Plant
In medicinal plants and materia medica, the title of Most Noble Plant should probably be conferred on Vitis spp. (Vitacease). It has a pedigree that very few plants—if any—can claim. Known from the most ancient traces of human activity in the Trans-Caucasian region and probably even before, it accompanied humankind through its history and the centuries, be it as a plant (grape) or as its most elaborated derivative (wine). Its history is increasingly better known, particularly in recent years, with the unprecedented development of under-water archaeology and, more recently, of ancient DNA identification. | Read more...
About the Project
Herbs in History is made possible by funding from the AHPA-ERB Foundation, as part of the nonprofit foundation’s mission promote education and research on medicinal, therapeutic, and health-promoting herbs. Tune in monthly for thoughtfully detailed historical accounts of herbs you know and love, and learn more about the origins of medicinal plants that have stood the test of time.
AHPA submits comments to FDA guidance on dietary guidance statements
Dietary supplements should be able to communicate their beneficial role in healthy diets
September 27, 2023
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a draft guidance that recommends standards for the use of “dietary guidance statements” in food labeling. FDA had previously issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on this matter in 2003, but this class of statements and the circumstances of their use had not been fully defined.
As defined in the draft guidance, dietary guidance statements are voluntary statements that “represent or suggest that a food or a food group may contribute to or help maintain a nutritious dietary pattern” and are based in the recommendations of an expert “consensus report.” Dietary guidance statements are distinct from other food labeling claims, such as nutrient content claims. Examples of such statements include “focus on whole fruit” and “use vegetable oils instead of solid fats when cooking.”
“AHPA’s comments on this guidance are a continuation of our work on nutrition labeling regulation, particularly the recent ‘healthy’ proposed rule,” said Robert Marriott, AHPA Director of Regulatory Affairs. “The public should have every opportunity to learn about the role that herbal products play in a healthy and nutritious diet.”
Alternate “consensus report” sources for dietary guidance statements
Among other elements, AHPA requested that FDA provide examples of a range of expert consensus reports that could be used to justify dietary guidance statements, including consensus reports from outside the federal government. At present, the draft guidance exclusively relies upon the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 (the “Dietary Guidelines”) in describing all of its recommendations and standards.
Dietary supplements should be able to bear dietary guidance statements
The draft guidance recommends that industry not use dietary guidance statements on dietary supplements, relying on a statement in one part of the Dietary Guidelines. Noting that the Dietary Guidelines refer to the necessity of dietary supplements in healthy diets in multiple locations, AHPA argues that the draft guidance’s opposition was contrary to its stated public health goals.
Longstanding monitoring and advocacy
AHPA has closely followed FDA’s positions on nutrition labeling as they have developed over the years, and will continue to engage with the agency on matters affecting the dietary supplements and natural products industries.
AHPA urges FTC to withdraw massed-mail notice of penalty offenses in Citizen Petition
The notice, issued in April to nearly 700 companies, has no legal effect
September 22, 2023
In a recently submitted Citizen Petition, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) -- together with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Food Industry Association (FMI), Natural Products Association (NPA), Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), and United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) -- requested that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) withdraw the mass-mailed notices of penalty offenses issued in April to nearly 700 companies, most of which are in the dietary supplement and natural products industries.
Ostensibly, FTC issued the notices to remind marketers to “avoid deceiving consumers with advertisements that make product claims that cannot be backed up or substantiated.” However, in the Citizen Petition jointly submitted on Sept. 15, AHPA and the co-petitioning trade groups contended that the notice should be withdrawn for three reasons:
First, the notices attempt to impose a substantiation standard that is prohibited by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and is otherwise inconsistent with prior guidance from FTC;
Second, the notice fails to establish any recipient company’s “actual knowledge” of unlawful conduct, which is necessary for FTC to seek civil penalties; and
Lastly, enforcing the vague notices would violate due process because they fail to provide any company with fair notice of what is prohibited.
“The FTC’s mass-mailed notices of penalty offenses had no legal effect, but they spread uncertainty among and about the responsible dietary supplement companies that received them,” explained AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “We urge the FTC to immediately withdraw the notices because they attempt to impose a claim substantiation standard that conflicts with established law and that may not (in the words of none other than FDA) prove ‘possible, practical, or ethical’ for our class of goods.”
“Further, the notices purport to facilitate the future imposition of civil penalties against the recipients in a manner clearly and repeatedly foreclosed by controlling court decisions,” continued McGuffin. “Taking the legally required action we have requested would remove the shadow that the notices have cast over the compliant dietary supplement industry that AHPA represents.”
AHPA Chief Science Officer presents on mushroom derived products at AOAC Annual Meeting
September 12, 2023
As part of the American Herbal Products Association’s (AHPA’s) work to advance analytical science in the dietary supplement and natural products industries, AHPA Chief Science Officer Holly E. Johnson, Ph.D., presented at AOAC International’s 137th Annual Meeting, August 25-30, in New Orleans, LA. The longstanding event brings together government, industry, and academia for professional development, networking, and collaboration in methods-based science.
Joining Darryl Sullivan (Eurofins) as moderator, Dr. Johnson kicked off the AOAC Botanical Ingredients & Dietary Supplement Integrity (BIDSI) program session at the annual meeting with a look at the historical use of mushrooms and the emerging popularity of functional fungi and mushroom derived products. This context set the stage for discussion of the analytical challenges that accompany the growing popularity of mushrooms.
In a session exploring the increased interest in and attention to Psilocybe mushrooms, Dr. Johnson presented on the therapeutic potential and evolving regulatory landscape for psilocybin mushroom derived products. AHPA founded its Psychedelic Plants & Fungi Committee in 2022 to address issues related to the safe use and responsible commerce of lawfully marketed products derived from psychedelic plants and fungi.
“I was thrilled to return to the AOAC Annual Meeting to collaborate with my scientific colleagues and contribute to timely discussions on functional fungi and mushrooms,” said Dr. Johnson, who presented alongside and met with many AHPA members throughout the week, as pictured below.
In addition to presenting at the annual and mid-year meetings, Dr. Johnson also serves as chair/member of numerous AOAC working groups and expert review panels. AHPA’s engagement with AOAC ensures that the association contributes to and stays informed of the latest scientific developments relevant to dietary supplements and other natural products.
AHPA shares 2023 Farm Bill priorities with Congressional Agriculture Committees
September 11, 2023
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture and U.S. House Committee on Agriculture expressing strong support for four priority issues to be considered in the 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization measure:
Amendment to Organic Food Production Act: Amendment to the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to clarify the National Organic Program’s (NOP’s) authority to regulate all dietary supplement products labeled or marketed with “organic” claims (and not, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 2020 policy change, solely those labeled or marketed with claims referencing the USDA or the NOP, including the latter’s seal).
Hemp: Amendment of the legal definition of hemp to raise the delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limit from 0.3 percent to 1 percent and to remove an existing requirement that hemp crops can be tested for THC-limit compliance only by laboratories with Drug Enforcement Administration registrations.
Industrial Hemp Act of 2023: Inclusion of the Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 (S. 980 and H.R. 3755), which would create a clear distinction between industrial hemp fiber and grain versus cannabinoid or flower hemp as well as less-burdensome regulations for production of hemp grown for fiber or grain.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program: Increased funding for the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program in the 2023 Farm Bill.
“The next Farm Bill presents a significant opportunity to support and strengthen herbal crop growers and producers,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “We encourage Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Chairman Glenn Thompson, Ranking Member John Boozman, and Ranking Member David Scott to seriously consider taking action on issues that AHPA has identified as crucial to protecting consumers from fraud, strengthening the gold-standard NOP, and supporting farmers.”
The Farm Bill is critical federal legislation that impacts food and agricultural policies and programs in the U.S. and internationally. Congress must reauthorize this legislation every five years. The 2018 Farm Bill – which federally legalized hemp (defined as Cannabis sativa L. with no more than 0.3 percent THC) – is set to expire this month on September 30.
AHPA ERB Foundation issues request for grant proposals
September 11, 2023
The American Herbal Product Association Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA ERB Foundation) is issuing a request for proposals to award grant funding to eligible applicants. The AHPA ERB Foundation supports a broad range of projects and efforts in the arena of botanical research and education on medicinal, therapeutic, and health-promoting herbs important to commerce in the United States.
Priority consideration for grants will be given to research in one of the following priority project types:
Type 1: Research of any specific herb or botanical commodity with regard to harvest, collection, or general supply, as well as botanical supply chain factors or trends;
Type 2: Research regarding applied technologies and methods of analysis, and analytical results particularly of extracts;
Type 3: Projects designed to identify and disseminate key botanical industry information to stakeholders and consumers.
Proposals must describe how the project will develop new information related to one of the three priority project types, defining clear objectives that this project will specifically address using well defined and sound methodology.
Applications should specifically explain what will be done to achieve the project objectives, and how tangible, measurable results will be collected and reported. Applications should describe the outreach plan (i.e., reporting of results) with clear deliverables and realistic expectations for reaching target beneficiaries of the research.
Proposals must include a timeline appropriate to the work and proposed outreach, describe applicant familiarity with related work, and include a sensible budget.
Applications should describe the key people involved in the project and their relevant experience, including their commitment, expertise, and ability to see the work through to its conclusion.
Refer to the AHPA Foundation General Submission Guidelines for Research Grant Proposals for specific instructions on proposal content, organization, and submission. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis.