The verification mark comes under USP's Ingredient Verification Program, a third-party audit that tests the quality of ingredients.
“The USP Ingredient Verification Program reinforces the message of excellence above merely meeting USP requirements to our customers in a way no internally produced message possibly could,” said Scott Steinford, President, ZMC-USA.
“The key to any quality ingredient is how the product is made and not simply where it is made,” he added, re-iterating comments made after the firm received USP verification for its CoQ10 and Beta-Carotene earlier this year.
Indeed, receiving third-party quality verification for ingredients coming out of China has been a priority for many firms, anxious to reassure customers in light of recent ingredient scares in the country.
Out of the 11 dietary supplement ingredients firms that participate in USP’s verification program, six of these are in China, USP’s John Atwater told NutraIngredients-USA.com today.
These include Huain MDC Chemistry, Pura Pharm International, Tangshan Sanxin Biochemical Products, TSI Health Sciences, Yantai Dongcheng Biochemical and ZMC. USP’s Chinese office is based in Shanghai.
The group's verification program encompasses both active and inactive ingredients in the manufacture of dietary supplements.
Ingredients that meet the requirements of the verification processes can use the USP Verified Dietary Supplement Ingredient Mark on their products. According to USP, this helps manufacturers recognize that they are buying ingredients of consistent quality.
In order to grant ZMC the use of its quality mark, USP verified the company's vitamin E ingredients through an audit of good manufacturing practices, conducted at the firm's plant in Zhejiang Province, China, as well as a review of manufacturing and quality control documentation, and laboratory testing.
The verification means that the ingredients are guaranteed consistent from batch to batch, said ZMC. They also meet label or certificate analysis claims for identity, strength, purity and quality, and they are prepared in accordance with accepted manufacturing processes.
The specific ingredients tested include D-alpha tocopheryl succinate, D.L alpha tocopheryl acetate and D-alpha tocopheryl acetate.
There are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta).
Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.
Studies have linked vitamin E to a host of health benefits, such as improving the function of the liver and thereby strengthening the body's defense system, as well as helping to protect against Alzheimer's disease. It is also thought to have an anti-cancer effect.
The vitamin E category suffered a big hit in 2005 following a widely publicized meta-analysis at the tail end of 2004 that linked vitamin E with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (Annals of Internal Medicine 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46).
The study stated that daily vitamin E doses of 400 international units (IU) or more can increase the risk of death and should be avoided.
The conflicting evidence has left consumers unsure of the benefits and wary of the harm. The day after the report came out, 20 percent of US consumers taking vitamin E supplements stopped taking them. Sales of the vitamin fell some $102m. Indeed, Cognis Nutrition and Health, one of the leading suppliers of vitamin E in the US reported a decrease in demand for its natural vitamin E products of 40 per cent, which led to a drop in revenues of 18 per cent in 2005.
However, the situation has since improved, with the market now recovered to the point where major vitamin E suppliers, such as Cognis and DSM, feel it can absorb recently implemented price increases.