HOW OFTEN KRATOM IS ADULTERATED

Perhaps the most-asked question we get here at Wonderland-Labs is whether or not testing is justified for Kratom. I wish I could make that decision for you, but what I can do is give you specific statistics on how often Kratom appears adulterated, how often we get samples in that claim to be Kratom but are something else entirely, how often there are pathogens or heavy metals present in dangerous amounts, and so on.

We only test for the common (and required) pathogens outlined in the FDA guidelines for anything that is intended for consumption in our lab. For the biological side, that means we test for Total Aerobics, Yeast & Mold, Coliforms, E. coli, Salmonella, & Staphylococcus. Each of these pathogens are not naturally-occurring in Kratom, and can reveal a lot about the material you are having tested. In no particular order, here are a few major categories regarding Kratom testing:

BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINATION:

  • Total Aerobics – About 5% of the samples come up with FAILING grades on Total Aerobics
  • Yeast and Mold – About 15% come up with high levels of mold. This typically indicates poor handling or material that’s been improperly stored, often in damp, dark areas that encourage mold growth
  • E. coli – Only about 30% of the total samples are positive for E. coli. But it only takes one, and E. coli is a very uncomfortable, although not fatal pathogen to have in any material that might be intended for consumption. We do want to note that we default to the USP method for E. coli detection, which is a newer standard that the FDA more widely accepts for dietary supplement testing. The older and more forgiving standard called FDA-BAM is now mostly intended for perishable foods. The USP method is extremely unforgiving and uses and enrichment process that will find even a single cell of E. coli and cause it to multiply. We now give clients the choice as to whether they want the FDA-BAM method (which was accepted for dietary supplements for many years by the FDA), or the newer, far less forgiving USP method.
  • Salmonella – We have not yet had a sample that’s been positive for Salmonella. That’s 0%!
  • Staphylococcus – Out of many hundreds of Kratom samples we’ve received, only a single sample came up positive for Staphylococcus. This is encouraging, and equals about a 0.01% results, but we wish we could have said ZERO samples came up positive.

HEAVY METAL CONTAMINATION:

  • Arsenic – We have not yet had a single sample fail for arsenic, but arsenic is one of the heavy metals that the FDA requires to be tested for any material that may be intended for consumption
  • Cadmium – We have not yet had a single sample fail for cadmium, but cadmium is one of the heavy metals that the FDA requires to be tested for any material that may be intended for consumption.
  • Mercury – We have not yet had a single sample fail for mercury, but mercury is one of the heavy metals that the FDA requires to be tested for any material that may be intended for consumption.
  • LEAD – This is a case where about 50% of the clients who send us Kratom material for testing, end up with a FAIL on their testing results. This is due to extremely strict laws in California regarding lead in products that may be intended for consumption. In fact, just because your material is a FAIL in California, it doesn’t mean that your material has been adulterated in any way. Many plants, including Kratom, naturally contain levels of lead in them that is higher than California allows. This has created an immense problem for many manufacturers and sellers who are required to put special notices on their products that have come up as a FAIL for lead, if they’re allowed to be sold at all.

In addition to common pathogens often found in Kratom, we are amassing a database of common adulterants found in Kratom as well. It’s surprising to see what adulterants end up in what is supposed to be pure powdered leaf. Maltodextrin is high on the list, as is Mitragyna Javanica, as well as powdered leaf material that has already been extracted.

COMMON ADULTERANTS:

  • Identification Failure – Out of the numerous samples we’ve received that are supposed to be Mitragyna speciosa, whether it’s an extract, raw powder, or liquid extract, only about 5% fail the test. This is encouraging news, and shows that most suppliers these days are actually selling Mitragyna speciosa to their clients. With the web, a supplier who sells something other than what they claim probably wouldn’t last too long in the business. When a sample fails the ID test, it’s usually because of a failed extraction, mitragyna speciosa leaf that was already extracted before selling to the customer, or a different species of mitragyna, most often; Mitragyna javanica.
  • Adulterants – The most common adulterant is maltodextrin. We don’t see this very often in raw leaf material, but we see it all the time in extracts. And, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s a way to make extracts flow better, and it can help precisely measure the alkaloid content in the material that you’re buying. When we’re testing what is supposed to be raw leaf material, only about 1% come up as FAILS for Identification. Not bad!

In the Big Picture, I think that the numbers of pathogens, heavy metals, counterfeits, and adulterants are quite small compared to the number of samples we’ve actually tested. If any of the material is intended for consumption (we’re not making any claim or judgement on the legality of whether it’s legal to consume Kratom), it is critical that it gets tested for all the common tests required by the FDA. Our facility has been inspected more than a few times by the FDA in the past decade, and one of the first things they ask for on the manufacturing side of our facility, are the Certificates of Analysis for any materials we may sell to clients that could be intended for consumption.

Certificates of Analysis are are your and best line of defense to ensure customer safety, whether or not the material you’re having tested is intended for consumption. Some pathogens are airborne, some leech, and it’s not safe to have any pathogen-containing material in any products that might be intended for sale.

Kratom lab testing is a relatively cheap insurance policy, and can make the difference between a slap on the wrist, and getting your inventory seized or worse; getting your entire operation shut down due to non-compliance. Let us help you get compliant; we’re the trusted experts on all kinds of exotic botanicals, including Kratom and numerous others.

WHY CERTIFICATES OF ANALYSIS?

A Certificate of Analysis will confirm that any material is safe for consumption according to FDA guidelines. It doesn’t mean it’s legal for consumption, it just means that if the tested material were to be consumed, it would not contain any of the common pathogens that are most-often and most-likley to be found in foods and/or dietary supplements.

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