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SUPPLEMENTS between brands. Heather Giles advises: “Work out the cost per day for the supplements you stock and have a chart with these costs available. Some products require a ‘loading’ dose, which can make it initially more expensive.”

product. All marketing claims are monitored by the Veterinary Medicines Directive (VMD), and it is currently illegal to make medicinal claims for a product without a pharmaceutical license. Most supplements sold by retailers do not carry such licenses. Heather Giles continues: “The required procedure to obtain these licenses is (rightly) stringent, time-consuming, and expensive. To have to obtain pharmaceutical licenses for herbal or nutraceutical supplements would be a financial impossibility for most supplement manufacturers and would inevitably result in a high-price tag.” The argument behind licenses is that extensively and clinically trialled products are deemed ‘safer’; however pharmaceutical products carry their own risks. Equally, just because a product is ‘natural’ does not mean it is automatically safe, which is another reason for retailers to stock products from a manufacturer whose expertise in formulating such products is to the fore.” Heather adds that it is currently a legal requirement to list the ingredients of a product on the packaging, along with typical analysis and dosage requirements: “Trading Standards police labelling and packaging, and offenders risk having their products removed from sale in extreme cases. “Retailers are advised not to stock supplements that do not comply with current labelling and packaging legislation, and no horse owner should consider

Image courtesy of Hilton Herbs To help customers choose, Dr J. Frank Gravlee emphasises: “Supplements that are backed by research, utilise quality ingredients, and are manufactured under strict quality control standards typically provide the best benefits to the horse and the owner’s pocketbook. The old adage ‘You get what you pay for’ certainly rings true in the equine supplement business.”

Legislation and quality control Supplement manufacturers are subject to much legislation as to what claims they can and cannot make about their

Image courtesy of Life Data Labs


July 2011

feeding a supplement that does not have the ingredients listed on the packaging. Supplement manufacturers have successfully lobbied to avoid having to list percentage ingredients, and quite rightly so as such a requirement would make products very easy to copy, however ingredients should be listed in order of importance.” Quality control over ingredients used is of key importance during supplement manufacture. Leading companies are careful to source ingredients from reliable and reputable sources (where relevant, the ingredients of high quality supplements are often human grade), and carry out batch testing to check for quality and contamination. Dr J. Frank Gravlee explains more about the process of the production at Life Data Labs: “Ingredients are sourced from well known companies with excellent quality control. The ingredients that contain nutrients important to the effectiveness of the product are required to be tested for quality prior to delivery to our manufacturing facility, including NON-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) testing. All lot numbers of our products have ingredient traceability from the source and through the manufacturing and distribution process. The quality system at Life Data Labs, Inc. is ISO 9001:2008 registered. As a final assurance of efficacy the nutrient content of the finished product is tested by an independent testing laboratory.” Many supplement companies are accredited under the Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (www. to signify compliance with specific quality standards, whilst BETA operates two assurance schemes designed to reduce the risk of naturally occurring prohibited substances (NOPS) in feedstuffs. The UFAS NOPS Code is designed for manufacturers of compound feeds, and the Feed Materials Assurance Scheme (FEMAS) NOPS Code is aimed at raw material and straights providers. Horslyx is one such company, and Anita Watson explains: “Horslyx takes part in both the UFAS and the BETA NOPS monitoring programs which requires members to source all raw materials only from assured suppliers. Not only do the suppliers themselves have to provide routine quality control

Equestrian Business Monthly

data for their products, but Horslyx also undertakes its own independent analysis to ensure all raw materials meet both the rigorous quality control standards and all legislative requirements. “All finished products are regularly analysed by an independent laboratory to ensure they meet the declared specifications. Independent university research is also conducted to ensure the products do what they say on the tub!”

Understanding a supplement Kate Jones, senior nutritionist for NAF, explains more about the labelling of supplements. We get many enquiries from retailers and consumers alike arising from information stated on the back of a supplement pack, for example “Why does this supplement contain Ash?” or “I’m worried about the protein content.” These points have to be included on supplement labelling by law but it’s easy to see why they lead to confusion.

Category An equine supplement is categorised as either a ‘complementary feeding stuff’ (a blend of ingredients); a ‘straight feeding stuff’ (a pure ingredient), or a ‘mineral feeding stuff’ which indicates that it’s particularly rich in certain minerals, such as limestone flour which is high in calcium. If none of these categories are listed then question whether the product is designed for horses.

Analysis Under European law supplements need to declare the analysis. Oil or energy may be quite high depending on the type of product, but this doesn’t mean it will fizz up or fatten the horse. Consider just how little is fed on a daily basis, perhaps 20g, compared to the 10 to 12kg of its regular diet. Ash can cause confusion, but ash is simply a technical

July 2011  
July 2011  

July 2011 issue featuring Summer Horse haelth including supplments, grooming, hoof care, etc. Business feature is on building a website