ABC opens comment period for new SOPs for how to destroy irreparably damaged herbal materials

October 19, 2018

The American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX), as part of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), recently released a proposed “Best Practices SOP for the Disposal/Destruction of Irreparably Defective Articles.”

The American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX), as part of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), recently released a proposed “Best Practices SOP for the Disposal/Destruction of Irreparably Defective Articles.” The standard operating procedures (SOPs) are meant to guide companies on when and how to destroy what are deemed to be “irreparably defective” raw materials received from suppliers, instead of returning those ingredients back to the supplier who may otherwise release the defective ingredients back into the supply chain. The public comment period for these SOPs is now open until October 30. This SOPs allow industry to take better control of the supply chain and prevent the sale of unlawful ingredients, ABC says.

“Basically, we’re saying that when something comes in and it’s defective, and it’s not reparable and the supplier can’t remediate it, don’t send it back. Because if you send it back for credit or for a refund, you know what’s going to happen,” explained Mike Blumenthal, speaking about the new SOPs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) The Conference in Dana Point, CA, this week. “The supplier almost invariably is going to sell it to someone else who may have a lower level of quality-control regimen, and it [enters] the supply chain and ends up in consumer products.”

Not all material needs to be destroyed. There are variety of scenarios in which ingredients do not meet a manufacturer’s specifications but can be fixed either by the manufacturer or sent back to the supplier for remediation. For instance, Blumenthal said, a material’s mesh size may be too large, in which case the manufacturer might easily be able to fix the situation itself by simply grinding it down to a smaller size. Or, an ingredient’s color might be different than what a manufacturer prefers, in which case the manufacturer can return that ingredient to the supplier who may be able to sell it to someone else because the safety and quality of the ingredient is not defective; just the color is off.

By contrast, the SOPs apply only to ingredients that are irreparably defective, both adulterated and misbranded, and cannot be remediated by either the buyer or supplier. At this point, this determination must be determined by a third-party contract laboratory, not the in-house lab, the SOPs instruct. “[The third-party lab] must corroborate, using a validated method or a scientifically valid method,” said Blumenthal. “So, it’s not about just any rejected material; it’s about the material that needs to go out and be destroyed. And that material should be destroyed by a qualified third-party disposal company and/or incinerator, as per the SOPs.”

This is the only way to prevent reintroduction of unlawful ingredients into the supply chain, he explained. The bright side is that while these SOPs are an important measure for better controlling the supply chain, most responsible industry companies most likely have never had to resort to such measures. “The irony of the thing is that most of the people in this room [at the CRN conference] probably never had to utilize an SOP like this,” Blumenthal said. “They’re not buying spot on the market for a $5 or $15 per kilo better price, which puts you in a situation where you might be at risk.” Still, he said, “We believe that’s an ethical responsibility that management has-not to mention, obviously, the legal responsibility” not to return irreparably defective ingredients to the supply chain.

The SOPs can be viewed and commented on here