Informed Ingredient is a global quality assurance programme developed to minimise the risk of contamination within ingredients used in sports nutrition products. Ingredients using the Informed Ingredient logo have been regularly tested for substances prohibited in sport using ISO 17025 accredited methods.
Established by one of the world's leading anti-doping laboratories, LGC, the Informed Ingredient programme works with sports supplements ingredient suppliers by providing high-quality analytical testing to help minimise inadvertent contamination risk. Reputable ingredient suppliers have their ingredients certified by Informed Ingredient in order to provide an extra level of assurance to supplement brands and manufacturers.
Once certified, ingredients can carry the Informed Ingredient logo. Supplement companies who see the Informed Ingredient mark can be assured the ingredient has undergone a rigorous screening programme for banned substances in sport and is safer for use. We always recommend verifying an ingredient has been tested and certified by performing a quick search on our website.
The Informed Ingredient certification process consists of 4 stages:
For a more in-depth explanation of all 4 stages, please visit the Informed Ingredient certification process page.
LGC is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, a globally recognised standard relating to laboratories and test procedures. LGC hold accreditation for a broad range of analytical testing, including the analysis of nutritional supplements for banned substances. LGC has held accreditation for supplement analysis since 2003 and is frequently inspected by the accreditation bodies UKAS (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service - LGC laboratory number 1187) and A2LA (the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation - LGC certificate no. 3244.01). During inspections, analytical methodology and validation data are independently assessed by a third-party auditor/expert, providing confidence to brands and consumers alike that methodology and analytical procedures meet some of the most stringent certification standards possible.
ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation is critical for any laboratory, in that it shows that test procedures have been independently assessed/evaluated objectively by third-party industry experts. LGC has held ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for supplement analysis since 2003.
Independent audits ensure that test methodology and validation data are "fit for purpose" for each individual test.
LGC has more than 55 years of experience as a regulatory doping control laboratory, testing both animal and human biological samples for the presence of substances prohibited in sport. Between 2004 and 2007, LGC (formerly HFL Sport Science) were accredited by WADA/IOC for the testing of athlete samples. However, in 2007 and following rising concerns from athletes regarding supplement contamination, LGC voluntarily withdrew this certification to focus efforts on the testing of supplement products for banned substances.
WADA accredited laboratories cannot commercially test supplement products for endorsement purposes - the following extract is taken from the WADA website:
WADA is not involved in any certification process regarding supplements and therefore does not certify or endorse manufacturers or their products. WADA does not control the quality or the claims of the supplements industry which may, from time to time, claim that their products have been approved or certified by WADA.
Our extensive experience as a sports anti-doping laboratory provides us with a unique understanding of the sports regulatory environment from a laboratory perspective.
At LGC, stringent quality control measures are adopted for each and every sample, to validate both analysis and extraction procedures. This provides brands and consumers alike with the assurance that test results are both robust and reliable. The analysis of such control samples also allows LGC to identify problematic and challenging sample matrices, where additional investigative work may be required - a growing requirement within the evolving supplement market. Where a laboratory does not have such exacting quality standards (as required by ISO/IEC 17025), such problems may be overlooked, resulting in the false reporting of an unsubstantiated result.
Unfortunately, no quality assurance programme can test for all substances which would be considered prohibited in sport. This is also highlighted by the fact that even the WADA prohibited list is open-ended; using the wording "other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s) in specific sections of the list. There is no specific list defining all prohibited substances.
In addition, the WADA prohibited list is specifically focused on the analysis of human biological samples (e.g. urine, blood, etc.). As such, WADA laboratories will also be testing samples for a wide range of metabolites (i.e. the metabolic breakdown products of drugs). With respect to the analysis of supplement products, the analysis will typically focus on the presence of the parent drug.'
Although it is not possible to test for all substances on the WADA prohibited list, through its experience in testing over 150,000 samples and its close relationship with the anti-doping community, LGC has been able to develop an extensive screening programme to manage product integrity; addressing both historic and emerging threats within the supplements industry.
LGC has been testing supplement products for prohibited substances since 2002 and has tested tens of thousands of product/ingredient samples during that time. LGC currently tests over 22,000 samples per year for more than 600 companies worldwide.
LGC's testing capability for supplements includes the analysis of over 250 substances that are prohibited in sport and substances that pose a threat in respect to product contamination. These substances include drugs of abuse, anabolic agents, stimulants, beta-2-agonists, masking agents, diuretics and new and emerging threats such as SARM's, Vaptans and PPAR's, etc.
With the evolution of test methodology and instrumentation over the last decade, detection capabilities in the field of anti-doping are continually improving. It is common practice for WADA laboratories to test urine samples in the low ng/g (10-9) (part per billion) region; with some test procedures having detection capabilities at even lower levels e.g. in the picogram (10-12) range.
It is therefore imperative to ensure that the detection levels employed for the analysis of supplement products are sensitive enough to limit the risk of inadvertent doping.
Research has shown that for certain compounds, consuming as little as microgram (10-6) quantities of a prohibited substance, could give rise to an adverse finding i.e. a doping violation. Obviously, these levels will vary based on drug compound and class; noting that all drugs will be metabolized differently. However, such knowledge and data further emphasises the requirement for testing procedures to be fit for purpose.
LGC conducts extensive method development and validation analysis to ISO/IEC 17025 standards to establish detection capabilities in the low to mid ng/g (part per billion) region for most compounds included with its screening programmes; providing athletes and consumers with the assurance that products have been tested to some of the most stringent standards possible with respect to banned substances.
Informed Ingredient testing and certification applies only to raw materials. It does not imply testing has been carried out on any finished product using a certified ingredient and the logo may not be used by any third-party or finished product outside of the certified ingredient's manufacturer. Companies interested in having finished-product certification can learn more about our Informed Choice and Informed Sport programmes.
Informed Ingredient will perform a review of the ingredient and manufacturing process via a paper-based assessment no more than annually or when a Member company notifies Informed Ingredient of changes to the manufacturing process of a certified ingredient.
During the review, the Member company may be requested to re-submit some or all information originally supplied. The Member company will also be requested to provide a list of all production batches of each certified ingredient.
Please visit the Informed Ingredient certification process page for more information
All raw materials certified by Informed Ingredient are listed on the Informed Ingredient website. Along with the website listing, which includes a list of tested batch information, a link to the certified ingredient's website is listed. Certified Ingredients are also provided with a brand standards guide containing marketing recommendations which include using the Informed Ingredient name in your product's marketing.