Home Back Issues July 2011 New lab addresses global contamination problem

New lab addresses global contamination problem

| Print |  Email
Articles - July 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

 

0711_NewLab_01
David Humphrey’s company has built a lab to weed out contaminants in supplements. // Photo by Teresa Meier

Kirkman Group president David Humphrey says he prides himself on the purity of the food supplements his company makes in Lake Oswego and sells globally. So it bothered him profoundly to have to recall several products in December 2009 after learning they were contaminated with antimony, a toxic chemical.

“We can’t be preaching on being a great company, watching out for stuff, and having a heavy metal in one of our products that might harm children,” says Humphrey. So Kirkman spent about a million dollars on dealing with the recall, then spent another $2 million on a long-term solution: a lab across the street from headquarters with mass spectrometry machines to identify and analyze potential contaminants in ingredients used to make the enzymes, probiotics and vitamin pills that Kirkman sells.

Questionable ingredients in over-the-counter “nutraceuticals” have become a vexing problem in a loosely regulated $26 billion industry. Humphrey, who does not shy from hyperbole, says contaminants in supplements have resulted in “hundreds if not thousands of deaths.” Most of the ingredients for these products come from overseas, where oversight is lax or nonexistent, and when they enter the United States they are not tested.

Humphrey says Kirkman’s new testing protocol goes far beyond what the Food and Drug Administration requires. He argues that testing ingredients carefully could improve standards in the industry, at a minimal cost. “For 50 cents a jar, you could test everything,” he says. “If the suppliers know we won’t buy contaminated product, they won’t ship it.”

Kirkman specializes in supplements for people with dietary restrictions and environmental sensitivities. The company has a history of selling to families with autistic children, although its catalog contains an oft-repeated disclaimer that products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Humphrey took over the family business from his father 10 years ago, growing revenues to over $12 million and jobs from five to 100. About 20 employees work in the new testing lab. Humphrey says the new lab represents “a challenge to other companies in this business to do the same thing.”

BEN JACKLET

 

More Articles

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Pete Friedes

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

082714-thumb friedesbookTom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Green Endeavor cleans up

News
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
080614 ULnew greenendeavorBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS