Alkemist Labs issues warning to industry on “dry reporting”

Doctored Certificates of Analysis being used to market material not actually tested, a legally actionable practice

Alkemist Labs has found some ingredient suppliers and marketing companies have been altering valid lab reports and using those falsified reports to promote their products.

The alterations have taken multiple forms, from changing or removing the client name to replacing the lot number, and have even gone so far as to change the results of the analysis.

This has not been limited to reports produced by Alkemist Labs.

“Dateline NBC did an undercover investigation in 2012 that revealed a practice by some in the dietary supplement industry that involved issuing a Certificate of Analysis with whatever test results the client wanted, but not testing a product at all, a practice called “dry labbing,” said Elan Sudberg, Alkemist Labs CEO.

“We’re calling this new problem “dry reporting” and it has the potential to create as many terrible headlines for the industry as the dry labbing scandal did. The industry needs to be on high alert.”

The most recent incident identified started on 6 May when it was brought to Alkemist Labs’ attention by several industry contacts that they had received an email offering elderberry botanical extracts for sale and linked lab reports purporting to show identity of Sambucus nigra (elderberry).

The linked report had been significantly altered from the original version. The company also clipped the images from the report and pasted those images in their marketing materials without any attribution.

“We see this sort of thing from time to time but, lately, it’s more common. With the supply chain strained, some companies are buying from people they have not vetted, and should proceed with extreme caution,” Elan said.

“It’s essential that whenever material changes hands, it’s tested. Don’t skip this step, especially now. And if you get a C of A that says it’s from us, email it to us and if it is authentic, we will verify that. We hope other testing labs in our industry will follow suit.”

In one of the recent incidents, a doctored Alkemist Labs report on elderberry was eblasted along with a report from another lab, DNA4 Technologies, which provides DNA testing for natural product identity and purity, which was also misused.

“We’ve demanded that the offending company send a letter to all the original eblast recipients that correctly identifies that DNA4 did not test the extract powder described in the advertisement, as well as to modify the ad that is posted on their website and include a notation that a previous version of the ad incorrectly linked our report testing raw materials, to the advertisement for a powdered extract,” said David Erickson, PhD, CEO and cofounder of DNA4.

In 2016 Alkemist Labs issued a policy and guidance to the industry when it was found that companies were mimicking Alkemist Labs distinctive report format. Those guidelines, still in force, include that

  • all Certificates of Analysis issued by Alkemist Labs will contain the following: “Copyright © Alkemists Pharmaceuticals 2020. All rights reserved”
  • clients may request to use lab reports issued by Alkemist Labs in their marketing materials, and we encourage them to do so, but must obtain written permission from the company to help weed out misused reports
  • no changes or redactions of any kind are permitted, nor may the Alkemist Lab name and/or logo be removed or blurred.

“The Alkemist Labs C of A is valuable because of the reputation we have built for accurate testing and deep knowledge of the products we test,” Elan said. “We intend to protect that integrity.”

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