You can have the prettiest bottle, the shiniest label, the best marketing, the most glowing testimonials. But, if the product in the bottle doesn’t match the hype all of that is just words.
You must expect, you must demand, that the product in the bottle – which you ingest – is formulated and manufactured to the highest standards possible. And that is the role of a robust Quality Assurance program.
It’s easy to say that we have a strong Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) program, and many claim they do. The hard part is in the actual implementation. Not only is it tough, it is also time consuming and expensive. There is much more to it than looking at the finished bottle and saying Approved!
What many people don’t know is that most dietary supplements are manufactured by someone other than whose name is on the label – also known as a contract manufacturer. In these cases, the marketer (the company whose name is on the label) will hire a company to make the product, and sometimes, even design and formulate the product.
While there is nothing wrong with this – there are many fine contract manufacturers out there – this leaves many critical steps in the hands of others. Sourcing and approval of raw materials, manufacturing steps, quality review, testing and approval are all in the hands of a third-party, frequently hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. This makes it very challenging to really be sure of what is in the bottle.
We at Progressive have taken an important Quality step that most haven’t – we manufacture our products in our own 220,000 square foot, 100% climate-controlled, state-of-the-art facility. This allows us to have direct control and oversight of every single step in the process from sourcing and receipt of the raw materials through manufacturing to release of the finished product.
We also do our own fulfillment, rather than relying on a third-party for that. That means that we are certain our products are stored in clean, sanitary and climate-controlled conditions, and that the products you receive are the freshest available. This can’t always be guaranteed if the fulfillment is being handled by someone else.
We are audited or inspected – a lot.
Between the FDA, the Texas Department of Health, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Informed Choice and several large customers, we get audited several times a year.
While audits are no fun – image an IRS audit – we find them important and necessary to help us improve. While we believe our manufacturing and quality processes are impeccable, we realize we aren’t perfect. Audits help to keep us up to date with new rules and regulations, and bring in a fresh set of eyes to review. This fresh perspective may help to identify areas for improvement that we might miss because we are so close to it.
A frequent question we get is – “Are you FDA certified?”.
The short is answer is no – because the FDA does not certify manufacturing facilities (nor approve dietary supplements that are sold). We are registered with FDA and State of Texas Department of Health Services (Texas Department of Health), and audited by both regularly.
Since the FDA doesn’t certify manufacturers, we have taken the step to become GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices)-certified by an independent, accredited, third-party auditor. In our case, that is through Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL has established an auditing and certification process that exceeds the requirements of the FDA. They audit us twice a year for compliance in order for us to maintain our certification.
In addition, we are aware that many athletes, professional and non-professional, use supplements as part of their daily regimen. And, those athletes are frequently tested for various banned substances by the various sporting authorities.
To eliminate an area of concern for those athletes – “is my supplement going to cause me to fail a banned substance screening?” – we have become certified through Informed Choice/Informed Sport. This certification process involves a review of all the raw materials we use, and physical testing of our manufacturing facility and equipment to certify that there is no possibility for cross-contamination of our supplements with substances banned under the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) rules. This gives those athletes and others peace of mind that our supplements are safe for them to take.
Raw Material Sourcing and Testing
A quality product begins with quality raw materials.
Even with the best practices and procedures in formulation and manufacturing, the finished product will suffer if the raw materials used are below standards.
The Quality process for bringing in a raw material begins far before that material hits our back dock. We have a team dedicated to sourcing the highest quality materials from around the world. That process involves extensive vetting of the material manufacturer and the US-based distributor from whom we purchase that material.
We also require extensive documentation and samples of that raw material for testing prior to approval of that material. That’s even before we purchase that material.
It is only after passing the above scrutiny will a raw material be approved for use in our products.
Every lot of every raw material received is thoroughly tested for identity, purity and potency before being released for use in production. This is often an expensive process, but absolutely necessary to assure the quality of the raw materials used in production.