The Florida-based leading producer of nutraceutical grade saw palmetto extract for supplemental nutrition is offering tests of oil samples for industry so as to ensure only good-quality material is being used.
The industry is under threat because over a third of products claiming to contain saw palmetto in the US are bogus, infringing on the credibility of the genuine product.
In fact, between 30 and 40 percent of 'supposed' saw palmetto sold on the US market is not the genuine product, Valensa president Rudi Moerck told IFT Expo delegates in June. Instead this mix of oils, including palm oil, is frequently sourced from China.
Studies have linked saw palmetto supplementation with an alleviation of the symptoms of benign prostrate hyperplasia. The clinical trials have been conducted with saw palmetto material produced from fully mature berries that met the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) monograph specifications.
Valensa will analyze the saw palmetto extracts at its Eustis, Florida laboratories, with profiling based on the USP monograph on saw palmetto extract.
The motivation behind the free offer to other industry members is "to protect the saw palmetto industry", vice president of sales and marketing for Valensa, Sid Hulse, told NutraIngredients-USA.com. The idea is to ensure bogus, ineffective or adulterated product does not reach the marketplace.
"Saw palmetto is one of the top three nutraceuticals by sales in the North American market," said Hulse. "Maintaining its image of quality and efficacy is important, not only to Valensa … but to the nutraceuticals industry as a whole."
The saw palmetto plant grows mainly in Florida and in the southeast United States, where it is harvested in the wild. The fact it is wildcrafted means it is costly as an ingredient, giving masquerading suppliers even more motivation.
"We'll tell you what it isn't," said Hulse - indicating Valensa can pinpoint by process of elimination if a sample is not saw palmetto.
According to Valensa, tests for saw palmetto quality have often been based on total fatty acid content, which does not give an accurate assessment of the identity and quality of the extract.
The method used by Valensa provides the ratio of the concentration of lauric acid to the concentration of constituent fatty acids, giving what is essentially a "genuine saw palmetto fingerprint".
Testing will take a maximum of ten days within receipt of the sample, said Hulse.