Barry Titlow, CEO of Compound Solutions and chairman of the AOAC's CoQ10 standards committee told NutraIngredients-USA.com that a "tremendous opportunity" exists for the industry to improve core practices.
Investment in standards will boost consumer confidence in botanicals without the need for heavy-handed regulation from the government.
"We want to prevent government enforcement by coming up with standards, so it is impressed with the industry's self-regulation," he said.
The DSTF secured funding in September 2001 to develop standards for around 25 ingredients through a five-year contract between the AOAC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), and the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The funding contract expires next year, however, and according to Titlow there is a great deal of potential to continue the program, selecting other ingredients requiring standards based on industry demand.
Last month Titlow donated $10,000 to the AOAC, which he said was seed money to encourage the rest of the industry to reach into its pocket and facilitate the program's extension.
The AOAC formed the Dietary Supplements Task Force (DSTF) in September 2000 after having been approached by trade associations expressing the need for a set of validated analytical methods for botanicals and dietary supplements.
The initial 25 standards, which include glucosamine, ginseng and lycopene as well as CoQ10, are all expected to be verified by the end of the year.
As for CoQ10, Titlow told NutraIngredients-USA that the committee has narrowed the options down to one standard and is in the process of making modifications to it. Next month it will be sent to one independent lab for verification, and then to a further seven labs.
It is hoped that the verification and protocol will be completed in August, ready for publication in September.
Titlow said that there is a need for globally acceptable CoQ10 standards since, although analytical standards already exist in Japan, US and the EU, they are all slightly different.
While US companies were requiring standards, they were modifying those set by organisations such as the US Pharmacopoeia to suit their own needs and machinery - a situation leading to a good deal of variation.
"Our mission was to develop a method for CoQ10 analysis that would be accepted globally and could be implemented standard machinery," he said.
CoQ10 has become an increasingly popular ingredient in recent years, largely because of its use in anti-aging formulations where it is thought to prevent damage to collagen and elastin production.
A recent study has also indicated that it may be of benefit to Parkinson's patients and regulatory changes are opening up its use in food supplements in Japan.
These factors, coupled with a labor-intensive fermentation process, have meant that supply cannot meet demand and prices have escalated.
CoQ10 currently sells for around $4,000 per kg on the spot market.
Although further price hikes are anticipated, Titlow said that the new standards should not be a contributing factor, "as long as we all co-operate."
But last month Japan's Kaneka said that record prices were boosting the market for fraudulent products. It has become aware of adulterated products bearing its forged Certificate of Authenticity.
"The standards will help combat this, as everyone will be using the same testing methods," said Titlow. "But can't say whether it will deter people from adulterating it."