The experts were convened by leading supplier Synutra International after earlier internal work by the company identified an adulterant in chondroitin sulfate, which the company called Zero One.
Weiguo Zhang, President, Synutra Ingredients, told NutraIngredients-USA that the study was geared to detect and identify sodium hexametaphosphate and other adulterants in ingredients, and not finished products. “Efforts are being made to do the same with market samples of supplement products,” he said, “but this takes time.
“We have known it was being sold to ingredient suppliers for about a year, so assume it has found its way into finished products. We are encouraging manufacturers to adopt our recommended testing protocol so they can keep it from getting into their products to begin with.”
Chondroitin-containing supplement products are in the top five best-selling dietary supplements, with annual sales of about $1 billion, and all chondroitin sold in the US is from overseas. The US is estimated to have imported about 3,500 metric tons of chondroitin in 2012, and about 3,000 in 2011.
Chondroitin sulfate is extracted from animal cartilage. In dietary supplements the compound is often formulated in combination with glucosamine.
Zero One was first reported by Aishan Li, director of R&D and Quality Control of Meitek Technology, a Synutra subsidiary, in 2013. The identification was achieved using electrophoresis as an effective screening tool. Synutra subsequently assembled a research group that included Synutra’s Weiguo Zhang, James Neal-Kababick, Director of Flora Research Laboratories, Jana Hildreth, Director of Technology and Scientific Affairs of Synutra Pure, Gabriel Giancaspro, Vice President of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Kristie Adams, a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy scientist at USP, and the late Dr Mark Roman, Director of Tampa Bay Analytical Research Laboratories. The resulting research paper is dedicated to Dr Roman.
The team elucidated that Zero One was a form of polyphosphate salt, namely sodium hexametaphosphate.
“It is an industrial chemical that is inexpensive and easily available,” said Neal-Kababick, who performed polarized light microscopy, elemental and infrared analyses of the suspect substance. “It is commonly used in detergent or as a water treatment agent, and is sold under the commercial name Calgon.”
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