Sports nutrition accreditation: How ingredient suppliers are stepping-up to meet safety and anti-doping demands

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

LGC now grants both Informed Ingredient and Informed Manufacturers accreditation programs for sports nutrition products.
LGC now grants both Informed Ingredient and Informed Manufacturers accreditation programs for sports nutrition products.

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Gencor, informed sport certification

An increasingly stricter regulatory framework and surging demand for safer products from both elite sportsmen and everyday consumers is driving the appeal of professionally accredited sports nutrition ingredients, not only finished products.

Launched only this year​, UK-based LGC’s Informed Ingredient is a certification scheme and screens raw materials for more than 250 banned substances to parts-per-billion accuracy.

This comes on top of the Informed Sport and Informed Choice programmes, that prove that finished sports nutrition products are free from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited substances. 

Ingredient supplier Gencor recently gained the Informed Ingredient accreditation for its palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) product trademarked Levagen+.

The firm believes that a stricter regulatory environment and consumer demand will drive the growth of sports nutrition certified “clean” and free of prohibited substances.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​founder/MD of Gencor, R. V. Venkatesh said he believes that the accreditation will be an attractive selling point, especially when promoting to elite athletes.

“In elite sports, doping and consuming prohibited substances are big issues which can lead to bad reputation, cause sponsorships to be revoked if sportsmen are found taking prohibited ingredients,”​ Venkatesh said.

“Even before getting Informed Ingredient certification, we have been sending our ingredients to the NSF International to prove that our ingredients are free from prohibited substances and safe.”

Now that the firm has received a certificate, the firm planned to establish working partnerships with elite sportsmen.

Existing studies show that Levagen+ could aid muscle recovery ​ and reduce joint pain​ – problems commonly seen in athletes. 

Another factor driving the demand for sports nutrition products certified free of prohibited substances, is a stricter regulatory environment, as seen in the case of Australia, added George Kokkinis, co-founder and technical director at Pharmako – sister company of Gencor.   

Last year, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that sports supplements will be regulated as therapeutic goods​ when 1) they make therapeutic claims and/or 2) contain higher-risk ingredients and/or 3) come in the form of tablets, capsules, and pills.

When regulated as therapeutic goods, the products must be made in a GMP-certified facility.

“Normally, whatever the TGA does, a lot of APAC countries will follow. [Sports nutrition] will be moving towards more regulation than less regulation​,” Kokkinis said.

With a stricter regulation, Venkatesh believes that TGA will place “more scrutiny to make sure that an ingredient is clean.”

Last December, the company also received TGA’s GMP certification in its factory for manufacturing finished product and ingredients.

Using a raw material that has gained an Informed Ingredient certificate also cuts short the amount of time needed for a finished product to apply and earn the Informed Sports accreditation, Venkatesh said.

“All the pressures, coming from sportsmen wanting to maintain a good reputation and companies keeping up with regulatory demands, will drive the need for clean sports and clean sports nutrition,”​ Venkatesh said. 

Consumer appeal

While failing a doping test is not a concern for the broader group of consumers, a product with professional accreditation is still appealing to them. 

“It is a surrogate measure of confidence that the product doesn’t contain anything it shouldn’t. I’m not sure if this is a pre-requisite for the everyday consumers yet though, albeit in principle, a third-party kite mark testing is a good thing.

“Perhaps it is an opportunity for a brand to differentiate by giving consumers the highest level of confidence in a product,” ​said Nick Morgan, director at Sports Integrated – a consulting firm specialising in exercise and nutrition.

Markets

At the moment, most of the companies using Levagen+ in sports nutrition supplements are those from the US and Europe.

However, Gencor is currently in talks with an Australia company in incorporating Levagen+ into a sports nutrition product for joint care and pain.

The company has also highlighted China, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines as markets where it hopes to build its sports nutrition business.  

Venkatesh pointed out that although the ingredient has gained the Informed Ingredients certificate, it has not increased in price as a result.

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