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|Articles - July 2011|
|Wednesday, June 22, 2011|
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.”
|Tuesday, February 25, 2014|
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Kelly Dachtler, president of The Clymb, redefines outdoor retail.
|Monday, March 03, 2014|
Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.
|Tuesday, February 25, 2014|
BY JAKE THOMAS
An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age.
|Tuesday, January 21, 2014|
BY JON BELL
Developers chase the rental market and change the face of Portland neighborhoods.
|Thursday, January 23, 2014|
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG
Vassar Byrd deconstructs retirement.
|Thursday, February 27, 2014|
Our 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.
|Friday, January 03, 2014|
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Introducing Jessica Ridgway, Oregon Business' new web editor. Ridgway will report on a variety of millennial issues.
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