"You may ask whether this kind of purity really matters to the regular consumer," Holmes says. "The fact is, millions of people every day are subject to drug testing as a condition of being hired. When police officers are involved in a car wreck or a shooting, they're immediately drug tested. The same is true EMTs and firefighters. And members of the military are subject to random drug testing."
Holmes says there are two steps in the nutritional substance manufacturing process during which contamination can occur: when the raw materials are produced, and when the products are manufactured. To counter these two threats, Informed-Choice offers three kinds of testing:
  • Raw ingredient testing
  • Finished product testing
  • Manufacturing site certification
For site certification, Informed-Choice literally swabs down entire manufacturing facilities, taking samples at those points in the process where the product could be contaminated. For finished-product testing, Informed-Choice tests samples from both the retailer's inventory and from store shelves. It will also review, in depth, the standard operating procedure a company uses to manufacture raw ingredients or mix supplements. These facilities are audited beyond Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) standards, taking into account the anti-doping measures Informed-Choice has developed to mitigate risk. This banned-substance testing in 50,000 times more sensitive than GMP regulation testing.

Purity Is About More Than Just Performance

In addition to potential disqualification for sport or employment, ingesting contaminated supplements can have a huge impact on people with physical illness.

When it inspects supplements, Informed-Choice looks for contamination from all types of steroids, as well as methamphetamine-type compounds and stimulants including DMAA, PMBHA, ephedrine, oxilofrine, and the anti-asthmatic medicine, higenamine. Informed-Choice pays attention to a long, long list of threats so the rest of us don't have to.
"Would the presence of a methamphetamine compound be a good thing for someone taking heart medication?" Holmes asks rhetorically.

Improving Consumer Confidence In Supplement Quality

Holmes says the market for supplement testing is now being driven by manufacturers and retailers who see the wisdom and the competitive advantage of being able to certify that their products are free of banned substances. This is an incredibly complex process that takes a long time, and delays the launch of new products. But now more than ever, supplement companies are realizing that when consumers can choose between supplements that have been tested for banned substances and those that haven't, it's really no choice at all.
"Customers want this kind of testing," Holmes says. "People will pay top dollar for their supplements, as they will for high-quality meats and vegetables, because they care about what's going into their body. Just like other organizations certify that a food is organic or gluten-free, Informed-Choice's certification assures consumers that the nutritional supplements they choose are safe for themselves and their children."

How To See If Your Supp's Make The Grade

Informed-Choice tests about 18,000 samples a year for contamination by banned substances. It verifies that testing has been done on products to make sure that the nutrients the label says are in the product are actually there—and in the amounts stated on the label. And it verifies that products have been tested for heavy metals and other contaminates prior to being tested for banned substances. you'll see that each week the company posts a number of newly certified products, or new versions of supp's you may already be familiar with.
To make this information more accessible, Informed-Choice is releasing a mobile application early in 2019 that will enable shoppers to check the certification of nutritional supplements of more than 220 Certified Sports Nutrition brands around the world. Until then, you can also use Informed-Choice's Certified Product Brands database to search for certified brands and products, or to see if a certain batch number of the supplement you purchased meets certification standards.
Informed-Choice is also planning to introduce an educational campaign to help consumers learn why certain substances are prohibited, how to read supplement labels, and whether simply having the GMP logo on a label means the supplement has been tested for banned substances. (Hint: It doesn’t.)
"Informed-Choice's goal," Holmes says, "is to help people understand the value of choosing products certified as having been tested for banned substances. Ultimately, we're here to improve overall supplement safety in the global marketplace."