The Chinese-dominated supply continues to raise red flags, with our sister site NutraIngredients-USA.com yesterday reporting on ongoing quality control concerns about chondroitin there, but Jonathan Shorts said while QC issues remained a factor with the joint health nutrient, thorough QC testing and price awareness could guarantee quality material.
“There are quality issues around chondroitin as there have always been companies that don’t have quality in mind,” Shorts said, acknowledging that since something like 80% or more of the chondroitin supply was derived in China, so to did most of the problems.
“It is not just the Chinese. Material also comes from New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, India. But there have always been certain players that can guarantee quality.”
Shark sourced chondroitin trades at about €75/kg whereas porcine, bovine and avian material can trade for half that price.
Third party testers in the US are reporting high fail rates for chondroitin, a fact Shorts acknowledged, and which only exemplified the need to increase testing.
“We have had failed batch tests and we take action to deal with that when it happens. That is why we have a QC programme in place, in addition to our own intelligence activity to ensure quality.”
Supplement makers spoken to by NutraIngredients confirmed a known source of the problem by stating they bought chondroitin at substantially reduced prices and conducted little, if any, batch testing of the material that arrived in their warehouses.
A team of Belgian researchers that have been conducting a chondroitin investigation say the quality problem has been compounded by the existence of a Chinese chondroitin cartel.
One of the researchers, Michel Van Cauwenberge, told NutraIngrdients that several supplements makers had confirmed the existence of a cartel that was controlling price and receiving favourable treatment from the Chinese government.
“One of our sources even went as far as calling it a mafia market, where chondroitin suppliers that offered lower prices are threatened until they comply,” he said, noting the investigation would continue in the Chinese pavillion at the Vitafoods Europe trade show in Geneva, Switzerland, in a few weeks.