Supplements are an important part of many people’s lifestyles. Keeping your internal organs running at peak efficiency or your hormones in balance is easier when you complement a healthy lifestyle with intelligent supplements.
But how do you know the supplements you buy and take daily are safe? That’s where third-party testing comes in.
What Is 3rd Party Testing?
Third-party testing means that once supplements have been manufactured, they are sent to an accredited testing laboratory for assessment and testing to ensure they meet or exceed the rigorous industry standards.
A third-party laboratory might test supplements for aspects including:
- Label accuracy – are the ingredients what they say they are.
- Purity or checking the right amounts of ingredients are present as per the label.
- Ensuring supplements don’t contain other ingredients which could nullify the intended positive effects.
The third-party lab will provide a certificate of safety to the supplement supplier, which they can then provide upon request.
Unlike other products, supplements don’t fall under the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rules, so manufacturers don’t need CPSC approval to produce and retail supplements. CPSC-certified products tend to be household items rather than wellness products.
However, even supplements that don’t contain FDA-regulated ingredients can be audited by the FDA. The FDA can, at any time, check to ensure that any supplement meets good manufacturing practice requirements, so savvy manufacturers should ensure that their products are up to standard to avoid penalties.
Why Third-Party Testing Is Vital
When a supplement manufacturer owns every step of production from concept to popping the tablets in a bottle, the consumer has to place a lot of trust in that company. They have to trust that the company has followed health and safety regulations at every step of the way and that they’ve created an effective and safe supplement that’s okay to use every day.
Laboratory certification proves that a supplement has passed a third-party audit or test and lets consumers know that the manufacturer can, indeed, be trusted. Consumers know that what the label says is in the bottle is accurate and that there are no hidden issues. This helps prevent:
- Build up in the body of unnecessary chemicals
- Ineffective supplements and therefore wasted money
It ensures a solid relationship with their customer base and a brand reputation to be proud of for supplement companies. It also avoids driving customers away, complaints from affected users, or worse, legal action from customers who got more (or less) than they bargained for!
Supplement Third-Party Testing – How it Works
Third-party testing laboratories are always independent of the supplement company for trusted certification and accreditation. They have their own brand reputation and integrity to protect, so they will always be transparent about their practices and lab accreditation. Visit a lab’s website to find out more about their individual experience and procedures.
Many labs will carry out testing for a multitude of clients. These might include supplement suppliers and pharmaceutical companies, governmental departments, food companies, cosmetics companies, and many more. Botanicals and phytochemicals go into hundreds of thousands of products that we use every day, and they all need testing to ensure they’re safe and effective.
Each product will be tested differently depending on its ingredients and what it will be used for. As well as the product effectiveness, labs might consider:
- Stability of the product
- Shelf life – when will it expire?
- Reactiveness – should consumers avoid any other products while taking this?
Many very specific certifications also look at performance supplements in terms of how they will appear on a drug test. The NSF Certified for Sport ® Certificate, for example, allows high-performance athletes to consume supplements with the confidence that they would not be expelled from competition due to a positive test for a prohibited substance.
How to Check if Your Supplements Have Lab Accreditations
Lab accredited supplement suppliers should happily provide proof of their certifications upon request. If their testing is done in-house, as can happen with larger manufacturers, then that supplier will have a certificate from a third-party audit that confirms that the testing has been thorough, accurate, and fit for purpose.
The best way to check if a supplement brand carries laboratory accreditations is to go on their website or contact them directly. Look for highly transparent supplement providers who directly carry their lab results on their website in an easy-to-access link.
For example, Revive AE provides the popular Calm supplement. This hormone balancing formula aims to regulate your cortisol levels for effective stress management. As well as carefully listing the effective ingredients, the amounts of each ingredient per capsule, and the benefits of the supplement, there’s a quick link that takes you to the actual certificate provided by the third-party laboratory.
This negates any need for consumers to spend time and effort contacting the supplement supplier or doing their own research to discover what lab accreditations these supplements have. If you come across a supplement supplier that is obstructive or difficult about supplying their laboratory accreditations, that’s a definite red flag, and you should probably avoid them.
High-quality supplements should always carry a certification, meaning they have been tested and approved by a third-party lab. This helps consumers buy with confidence and builds trust between supplement suppliers and their users.