If you feel like you’ve been guest-starring in Groundhog Day: Pandemic Edition for the past year+ and the days, weeks and months are all starting to bleed together, you’re not alone. It’s never been a better time to take your health and well-being seriously. It is springtime though and the weather is gorgeous, so after a leisurely walk you find yourself standing in the supplements section of your favourite, local store. The colours, fonts, images and claims of the packaging all clamour for your attention and try to signify potency, worthiness and quality. How to choose? What to look for? Part of becoming familiar with a brand and trusting it is knowing more about who they are as a company and what goes on behind the scenes in making their products. Sometimes, a little research is needed to build that trust. At Flora, we have always been about quality first. Above all, we value long-term customers and doing our best to communicate what goes into the making of a Flora product.
Our facilities follow GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards and are subject to regular inspections. Our ingredient testing standards start with those set by Health Canada, the FDA, the WHO, and the EU Pharmacopeia. In many cases, we set our own internal standards higher than those available from 3rd party health authorities – for example, our standards for rancidity in our seed oil products are much stricter than any 3rd party ones out there.
Before accepting raw materials for use in our formulas, they have to jump through a number of hoops. These tests include things like organoleptics (a fancy word for our super sensory quality assurance people tasting, smelling, and visually appraising the appearance of ingredients), identification (analytical tests like TLC, HPLC and microscopic testing), purity (heavy metals, pesticides, solvent residue, microbiologicals, allergens) and potency (active ingredients, fatty acid profiles).
Identification tests are proving to be incredibly important. While we do vet our ingredient suppliers carefully and have long-standing relationships with them, we don’t cut corners by simply accepting that a given ingredient is what the invoice says it is. We will double check by testing it ourselves to ensure there is no adulteration or substitution happening. Unfortunately the popularity of certain ingredients in the supplements industry has in some cases led to scarcity and price increases, and resulted in adulteration.
For example, elderberry has been smashing sales records this year. Unfortunately it comes with the territory that adulteration has also become more of an issue for this ingredient. Flora works with vetted and reliable suppliers and does in-house testing for our ingredients to ensure what we receive and use is pure. In this case, our supplier standardizes our elderberry extract for anthocyanidin content and Flora does HPLC testing to verify that it's truly elderberry. Identity testing is important and not something to cut corners on. Consumer confidence and the health benefits themselves are too important to take for granted.
Counterfeit products and ingredient adulteration has also been a huge issue for mānuka honey as well. This is one of the reasons why Flora chose to work with Onuku Limited, a 100% Māori-owned honey operation based in New Zealand. Each jar of our honey is 3rd party certified by the UMFHA (Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association) and has an NFC tag under the label that can be scanned by your phone to trace it back to its point of origin in New Zealand and learn more about its specific batch. For something as rare and precious as mānuka honey, we want consumers to feel confident they are getting the real thing.
This is just a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at Flora to ensure what you get off the shelf, out of the cooler or added to your online cart is the kind of top drawer quality that will win you over, support your health and keep you coming back for more.