Quality Update: A New Look at the EQP
The Emerson Quality ProgramSM (EQP), launched in 2009, was devised as a way to provide practitioners with a quick and easy way to discern high quality brands and products, by providing a visible gold or silver seal when shopping on the Emerson website. Today, in an environment where supplement quality is at the forefront, we are dedicated to making the program even more meaningful and relevant to practitioners—saving you time and helping you improve your clinical outcomes.
Every brand in the Emerson Ecologics portfolio, meets the minimum quality hurdle of cGMP compliance. However, our quality criteria is much higher for Silver and Gold EQP® partners. We conduct in-depth reviews of their production processes. We review all batch records for a specified product lot, including their ingredient testing documentation, which includes a certificate of analysis and lab test results. Then, we send that product off to our own qualified labs to independently test and make sure we get the same results. This is a spot check, to test a parameter of quality and confirm what we expect.
Once a supplier meets initial documentation criteria, then members of our Quality Department conduct a thorough on-site audit of the entire manufacturing facility, to ensure they are not only meeting, but exceeding industry standards in the manufacturing of their products. Our Quality team is looking to verify that the company is strictly following their policies and processes to ensure the quality, purity, safety and potency of all their products.
Even after a brand is accepted as an EQP® partner, the program requires that we continue to test their products a minimum of twice per year, with follow up on-site re-verification audits every 3-5 years. We take our quality commitment to our customers very seriously, and our EQP process allows us to feel confident that we’re offering you the best.
What does the Emerson Ecologics EQP Program test for?
We send top selling products from our EQP partner brands to our labs quarterly to test for one of many parameters, whatever is most relevant, including heavy metals, solvents, pesticides and herbicides, microbiological contaminants and potency. We occasionally test for ingredient identity, for specific speciation of plants (making sure herbs aren’t adulterated or “cut” with less effective, cheaper species) and for contaminants (like triclosan). We follow industry adulteration alerts, regulatory agency warnings, national news reports and trending consumer concerns to inform our independent testing program.
What happens if a product fails?
First of all, it is essential to set the stage by saying that testing finished products, meaning the capsules in your bottle, is challenging. Much of the identity and purity testing conducted on products is done early on in the process, before ingredients are mixed and packaged into a finished good. After a single ingredient is blended with other ingredients, including inactive ingredients, it can be much more difficult to interpret results. For example, in 2011, Consumer Labs incorrectly published that a top selling fish oil tested rancid, when in fact, the lemon flavoring added to the finished product leads to a false positive for that test.
If a product fails to meet testing specifications, we report this to the manufacturer, and request an investigation. We have had an instance where our lab made a calculation error and reported a failed result, but the brand noted the error, which the lab later confirmed. The brand can also choose to have the product (same lot) retested by a more appropriate method. However, if the product doesn’t pass a retest, then it is suspended from sale. In cases where products fail testing, the brand is subject to removal from the EQP® unless they can validate that the problem has been remedied, and that their other products are not affected.
While testing finished products can be a complicated process, it is one of the tools that we use coupled with manufacturing site visits, quality report submissions, and open dialogues with our supplier partners to help ensure that you our customers have confidence in supplement quality. If you have any questions about quality or our EQP®, please reach out to our Medical Education team at (800) 654-4432. We are here to help answer your questions and ensure that you find products that meet your exacting standards.