"AHPA's special committees provide forums for pooling the expertise and insights of our member companies to promote responsible commerce in specific product categories," said president Michael McGuffin.
The organization was founded in 1983, but McGuffin said it has expanded its focus to meet the expanding needs of its members.
Publicity surrounding the reputed appetite-suppressant properties of Hoodia gordonii, a South African cactus-like plant, has led to a surge in demand in the United States. But the market has become swamped with adulterated material that is either cut with other substances or is of a different species that does not contain the active molecule.
The export of genuine South African Hoodia gordonii is strictly controlled, and it comes accompanied with paperwork certifying its provenance.
In recent months there has been some controversy over testing methods, which has led supplier Stella Labs to take steps towards establishing a benchmark standard - initially contracting independent laboratories to corroborate the findings of IBC Labs, the facility it routinely uses to test its bulk material.
The new AHPA committee aims to promote and protect responsible commerce of hoodia-containing products. It will be co-chaired by Hugh Lamont of Herbal Teas International and Trimspa representative James Fischer.
Recent concern about Ayurvedic products stemmed from a Journal of the American Medical Association report last December, which claimed that 20 percent of products tested in the Boston area contained metals at potentially toxic levels.
Unauthorized Ayurvedic medicinal products were subsequently identified on the market in Canada. In the light of heightened awareness of these issues, in July AHPA introduced a new trade recommendation on metal-processed herbs.
It advises that manufacturers and marketers of herbal products that are based on Ayurvedic traditions refrain from including any ingredient that is processed with metals, if this would result in such high levels of heavy metals that the product would be deemed adulterated.