The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA; Silver Spring, MD) has launched a Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) assessment program for botanical suppliers. The organization says that the free assessment tools will enable those in the herbal products industry, including growers, harvesters, and processors, to more effectively evaluate and document policies and procedures that ensure high-quality herbs and ingredients throughout the supply chain.
The assessment tools, which align with AHPA's recently released Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices for Botanical Materials, comprise specific checklists to ensure that best-practices procedures are followed. There are nine checklists in all, related to 1) botanical identity and quality assessment, 2) cultivation, 3) wild collection, 4) general farm standards, 5) harvest, 6) post-harvest handling, 7) further processing, 8) a food facility and farm mixed-type facility assessment tool, and 9) a dietary ingredient supplier assessment tool.
AHPA points out that finished-product companies can also require that their herbal ingredient suppliers adhere to these best practices. As the association notes, “It encourages adoption of a common set of best practices.” AHPA’s program includes templates for growers, harvesters, and processors to use and adapt “to ensure that herbal raw materials used in consumer products are accurately identified, not adulterated with contaminants that may present a public health risk, and fully conform to all quality characteristics for which they are represented.”
Jane Wilson, director of program development, AHPA, discussed the benefits of having a set of guidance tools for botanical operations in a recent press release: "The guidance and assessment tools provide an easy-to-follow road map to implement and appraise best practices for most botanical operations,” she said. "These free resources help companies identify and document practices that adhere to the GACP-GMP guidance and look for opportunities to further expand their commitment to producing and supplying quality botanical materials.”
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) offered a statement of support for the new assessment tools, adding that the guidelines are an important step toward ensuring ethical practices and high-quality materials. "CRN welcomes AHPA's guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices for Botanical Material, and recognizes the crucial role they will play in ensuring the production of high-quality herbal raw materials,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, in a press release. “There has been a need for best practices that are easily adaptable for growers, harvesters, and processors to improve their operations for the cultivation, wild collection, and processing of botanical crops, and we commend AHPA for filling this gap.
He continued: “CRN is committed to participating in meaningful self-regulatory initiatives. In unanimously adopting this resolution of support, CRN's board of directors has given strong consideration as to how the AHPA guidelines might be incorporated into member operations. As the industry continues to grow and innovate, we embrace our colleagues’ efforts to increase adherence to legal, ethical, and safety standards. AHPA's guidelines are no exception and we look forward to witnessing the positive impact they will have."
The assessment resources can be found online in AHPA’s GACP-GMP resource center. AHPA encourages members to review the assessment program and offer any questions or feedback.