Beta Analytic Inc.

High-Quality Natural Products Authenticity Testing Services


ISO/IEC 17025:2005-accredited Beta Analytic provides stable carbon isotope and radiocarbon analyses to determine the percentage of natural versus synthetic content of flavors, additives, coloring, fragrances, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and other chemical components in food, drugs, and beverages.

The lab reports natural vs synthetic components of a product under the ASTM D6866 standard currently used in the USDA Biopreferred Program to determine the percentage of carbon in a biobased product that comes from renewable sources as opposed to fossil sources.

Products that are 100% sourced from nature (“natural products”) are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. As a result, some companies use artificial alternatives that are usually petroleum-derived. The biobased content is a measure of the amount of biomass-derived carbon in the product, i.e. the percentage of components in the product that comes from natural sources. Through biobased content testing, adulterated or fraudulent products can be identified.

For manufacturers and raw material suppliers, biobased content testing provides data vital during R&D phase of product development and a third-party certification that their products have not been adulterated and do not contain artificial components. Biobased content data make an excellent marketing tool to promote the product’s quality in a way consumers can easily understand.

For distributors, consumers, and regulatory bodies, biobased content testing verifies a supplier’s claims that their product is derived solely from natural sources such as plants, animals, or microbiological materials.

The ASTM D6866 standardized method detects synthetic substances in materials through radiocarbon (Carbon-14) analysis. Materials sourced from nature have a known radiocarbon level. Products with petroleum-derived components, however, will have a significantly lower radiocarbon level. Many artificial additives in food, drinks, drugs, and cosmetics are petroleum-based, and these materials have no radiocarbon left.

For example, Product A wholly made from renewable sources (plant extracts) will be 100% biobased according to ASTM D6866. Product B, composed of 60% plant-based extract and 40% petroleum-based extract, will have a biobased percentage significantly less than 100%.

A material’s inherent carbon isotope levels can be used to assess its authenticity. Products sourced from nature have known amounts of Carbon-12, Carbon-13, and Carbon-14. By measuring the carbon isotope levels of the product and comparing it to the reference standards, it is easy to distinguish the natural from the fake.

At the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in 2010, Graham Jones, Ph.D., presented his research on detecting fraudulent vintage wine. According to Dr. Jones, the year that the grapes were grown fixes the age or vintage of the wine. The Carbon-14 isotope ratio of the wine alcohol can therefore be used to determine the vintage of a wine.

As shown in various researches, Carbon-14 analyses can be used to differentiate these natural products from their petrochemically-derived counterparts – vanillin derived from vanilla beans, essential oils like cinnamon oil and bitter almond oil, caffeine from coffee or tea, acetic acid, citric acid, curcumin (turmeric extract), and edible oils like olive, sesame, corn, squalene, and rapeseed.

In 2011, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention proposed to add ASTM D6866 to its Food Chemicals Codex as the method for verifying the natural ingredients in dietary supplements and food. ASTM D6866 testing prevents counterfeit ingredient sources, e.g. adding synthetic compounds to natural ingredients.

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