Question: Karl, what new ingredients are the leading brands looking at for the next batch of supplements to hit the markets? Have the MHRA reduced the effectiveness of our supplements or are you guys one step ahead of the game?
This is a very interesting question. Naturally I cant give away too much information on what we are looking into at this stage as I’m sure many competitor brands will read this and look to steal a march.
Its fair to say that historic and new legislation that has come into play has somewhat hindered R&D of new ingredients to come to the market and we have seen some existing herbs being pulled unnecessarily.
Its worth noting that UK brands have to work to different legislation than American brands, so quite often you will see novel but unproven ingredients pop up on the American market and are imported into the UK, however as a UK based brand we could not use these in our formulas. Although to be honest a lot of these compounds have no proven efficacy so we at Reflex Nutrition wouldn’t touch them. A great example of this is Geranium (1,3-dimethylamylamine), simply put this is not legal for sale in the EU but as you can see it is freely available, however it does appear authorities are paying more attention and I have noted that some American pre-workout products have now been reformulated. Its also a bit of a bone of contention calling it Geranium extract as I don’t believe what is being used within current products has ever come from Geranium and new research is questioning whether 1,3-dimethylamylamine is actually an extract of Geranium at all! The real problem occurs is that as we have seen by having it in products that are freely available, people will buy them without understanding firstly how strong they are and secondly that they will not cause any issues with drug testing. As we have seen over the last year there have been a number of athletes from high profile sports testing positive for due to them taking products containing Geranium.
If a new compound is to be used within a product that has has no history of “significant” consumption in the European Union prior to 15 May 1997 it must be authorized according to the Novel Food legislation, Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council. To go through the process of getting Novel Food status we are talking very large sums of ingredients and very timely.
We have also seen recently the new EU herbal legislation, we requires herbal ingredients to have a license for them to be sold. Again acquiring a license for a single product is upwards of a hundred thousand pounds. We have had to remove several products from our range such as Milk Thistle, Elderberry and Cats Claw, etc, which are not only safe but also have many health giving properties.
Whilst the legislation can be counter productive and slow down innovation, to an extent I can see why it has been put in place. In theory it does mean that the consumers should only have products which are safe and have proven efficacy, which is no bad thing. I also think that part of the issue is down some companies who over market the products and have essentially brought negative attention to these products and therefore the authorities have to act.
Coming round full circle to actually answer your question, if there are new novel ingredients that have potential, they will if they are good enough, have a proven safety profile and are not classed as a drug will make it to market, however it may take a little longer and cost more money but at least the consumer can have confidence with there products.
Currently we have a number of products in development, some are of improvements of existing products and some are completely new. Once we are in our new facility we will begin putting these into production, so early 2012 will be an exciting but busy time at Reflex Nutrition HQ!
Image: New Reflex Nutrition manufacturing facility in construction