FT-NIR rapid screening detects adulterated Chondroitin sulfate

As our pets are living longer, Chondroitin sulfate (CS) as a supplement for degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis is a particularly hot area, available as infused chewable tablets, treats, or as a functional ingredient in pet foods formulated for senior pets.

In animals and humans, CS is naturally produced by the body as a component of cartilage and joints. With age, the amount of CS in the body decreases, and supplementation reduces inflammation, minimizes cartilage damage and provides joint lubrication. As a raw material, CS is a natural polymer typically sourced as a finely ground white powder that is produced from bovine, porcea trachea, shark or chicken cartilage.

It is well known in the dietary supplement community that many testing methods are non-specific and often yield false positive results. For example, the CPC titration method cannot distinguish between CS and other sulfated materials, such as alginates.

HPLC testing must be based on the enzymatic digestion method developed specifically for CS to avoid false positives. The common economic adulterants, such as cheaper polysaccharides and keratin sulfates, are typically not harmful but dramatically reduce the efficacy of the product.

FT-NIR can distinguish spectral patterns of pure CS from adulterated CS materials. An article published in Food Processing, “Get What You Pay For,” highlights the benefit of rapid screening incoming Chondroitin sulfate raw materials to confirm identity and to detect adulteration. Quantitative methods have been developed to verify the assay value on the COA’s provided by suppliers, and to ensure that manufacturers are getting what paid for.