The cranberry industry’s first-ever five-star cranberry supplier testing protocol, Cranberry Quality Assurance (CQA), is a voluntary quality testing program that guarantees that the cranberry being sold has been tested to ensure identity, safety, purity and efficacy. Fruit d’Or, a global leader in organic processing and supply of nutraceutical cranberry and blueberry powders, was the first whole-food cranberry powder company to sign up and achieve the CQA seal.
The CQA was created with the help of industry stakeholders and organized by an advisory panel made up of experts in the nutraceutical industry to establish higher quality standards for cranberry suppliers.
The CQA was developed for three significant reasons:
- Offshore suppliers entering the U.S. supplement market with adulterated cranberry (often blended with other high-proanthocyanidins (PACs) materials such as grape and peanut skins, plum and black beans), which don’t provide the same benefits of cranberry.
- The 2014 investigation of supplements from the New York Attorney General that revealed adulterated and mislabeled products.
- Some cranberry ingredients suppliers intentionally misleading both companies and consumers by selling cranberry pulp and juice as whole fruit cranberry powder.
Considering these factors, it was time to grow and protect the cranberry industry and its consumers. Before the CQA, there was no sweeping cranberry standardization, nor sufficient testing procedures and methodology to resolve the disparity of efficacy and standardization, such as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF).
The objective is to provide cranberry powder that contains the highest standard of quality that protects the industry stakeholders, along with the health and wellness of consumers. This is achieved through establishing a standardization of quality by having tests performed by third-party independent laboratories to demonstrate purity, safety and efficacy.
The CQA five-star program
Cranberry suppliers voluntarily submit their whole food cranberry and juice powder to undergo this five-star CQA testing program:
- Fingerprint analysis for identification via MALDI-TOF
- DNA sequential bar coding for authenticity
- Detection of adulteration via MALDI-TOF
- Analysis of biomarkers such as PACs and subsequent standardization
- Anti-adhesion testing to establish efficacy
Once the material is received, the supplier or manufacturer should expect to receive complete test results in approximately four to six weeks, due to the nature of the extensive testing. Each cranberry material that passes these five steps is awarded a colorful CQA logo. When consumers see the CQA logo and the support of manufacturers, they will recognize a seal that guarantees that both the supplier and the manufacturer have done their due diligence to provide safety, purity and efficacy. This seal can be used on product labels, consumer brochures, advertising and social media.
CQA benefits everyone in the industry
Manufacturers, consumers, nutraceutical industry stakeholders and the cranberry industry all will be protected. Higher quality standards, manufacturers’ businesses, brands and reputations will also be protected. More trust and credibility will be achieved for industry stakeholders. Consumers will gain more trust and confidence in cranberry products at the retail level.
It is important to protect the health and safety of consumers by introducing cranberry products that provide quality and efficacy. Not all cranberry products are of the same quality. Therefore, the program generates more credibility and trust within the nutraceutical industry to win the respect and confidence of both consumers and the media. The industry is under pressure by government and media to improve the quality of dietary supplements and ensure there is no adulteration.
Third-party laboratories such as Complete Phytochemical Solutions receive the powder and this becomes registered. The powder gets tested and the supplier receives all documentation so there is traceability and transparency. The manufacturers then send back a retained sample and a finished product, which will be held at complete Phytochemical Solutions.
The costs involved with CQA are absorbed by the ingredient suppliers. The CQA program’s goal is to offer the highest quality that will protect the consumer and bring more efficacious product to the retail shelf.
Brands participating in the program
Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals was the first within the cranberry industry to verify all of its ingredients through this program. Other companies acknowledging the need for CQA include such companies as UAS Labs, Vibrant Health, Swanson, Twin Lab, Garden of Life, AIDP, Vitality Works , PNP Pharmaceuticals, Innophos, Sabinsa, Genesis Today, Advantage Health Matters and Jarrow Formulas. Because not all cranberry products are of the same quality, the CQA program generates more credibility and trust within the nutraceutical industry to win the respect and confidence of both consumers and the media.