Informed Choice is a global quality assurance program for sports nutritional supplements. The presence of the Informed Choice quality mark on product packaging demonstrates to consumers that the product has been regularly tested for prohibited substances in sport and that the product was made in an environment with quality systems appropriate for the stringent demands of sports nutrition manufacturing.
Nutritional supplement products certified by Informed Choice undergo a rigorous pre-certification and post-certification process, consisting of four stages:
Prior to certification, a certification agreement will be issued along with a program pack, which explains how the program works and provides guidelines of how the Informed Choice logo may be used once certification is complete. The Member company applying for certification must send in product labels to the Informed Choice marketing team for approval of all logo uses – products may not be retailed bearing the Informed Choice logo until the entire certification process is complete.
A comprehensive picture of the product is built up and reviewed to understand factors such as product branding & integrity, product variants, retail plans, product testing schedules and manufacturing facilities. At this stage, the product ingredients are reviewed in detail by experienced assessors to minimize the risk of banned substances.
A review of the procedures in place at relevant manufacturing facilities is then undertaken via a paper-based assessment. This process is managed by experienced assessors, who provide guidance on how to meet the required standards of the Informed Choice program and reduce risk within manufacturing processes.
This stage of the certification includes an assessment of the following:
Prior to certification, LGC must test three samples across at least three production runs/batches. These samples must not show indication for contamination with prohibited substances. This will be carried out in parallel with the product and manufacturing review (stage one).
Once stages one and two are complete and any resulting actions have been closed out, the product will be accepted for certification with Informed Choice. An Informed Choice certificate will be issued, after which time the new Member company may use the Informed Choice logo in association with the certified product. The Member company will be provided with the ‘Informed Choice Brand Standards’ which explains how the logo may be used and how best to market the new certification mark. The certified product will be listed on the Informed Choice website along with all tested batches. A link is provided to the Member company’s website or applicable purchase site.
Following certification, each product must undergo monthly blind testing to independently ensure the integrity of that product. Blind samples are purchased by the Informed Choice Program Management team from retail outlets.
Every batch tested product will be displayed on the Informed Choice web site. In addition to regular product testing, the product and manufacturing facilities are regularly re-reviewed to ensure the requirements of Informed Choice continue to be met.