Informed Choice is a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. It is a monitoring program that certifies that a supplement product and/or raw material that bears the Informed Choice logo has been ‘skip-lot’ tested (tested at least on a monthly basis) for banned substances by LGC’s world-class sports anti-doping lab. Supplement users can use the search function above to find products that have been through this certification process.
Research has shown that some supplement products have been found to be contaminated with low levels of substances that are prohibited by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and other sporting bodies. The Informed Choice program aims to work closely with supplement manufacturers and suppliers by reviewing the quality systems they have in place at the manufacturing facility and by providing high quality analytical testing for products and ingredients to minimize the incidence of banned contaminants finding their way into sport. The program also aim to provide athletes with an effective risk management service so that they can choose products that have undergone additional quality control testing as required in elite sport.
The Informed Choice (2007) certification program was established by one of the world's leading sports doping control laboratories, HFL Sport Science, which is now known as LGC. Although LGC has been testing supplements since 2002, it became clear that there was a need for a comprehensive certification program which not only tested products for banned substances, but also ensured products were manufactured to high quality standards.
The Informed Choice certification is a voluntary program for reputable supplement companies who wish to register some, or all, of their products and carry the Informed Choice mark on those products. Athletes who see the Informed Choice logo on a product can be assured it has undergone rigorous checks and testing to ensure that it is not contaminated with banned substances and is safer to use.
Details about Informed Choice and Our Testing Process
Although there is no such thing as a ‘100% guarantee' that tested supplements are free of all banned substances (see FAQ about 100% guarantees), Informed Choice provides consumers and athletes with an effective risk management service, allowing them to make informed choices about the products they choose to use. LGC's analysis of tens of thousands of supplement and raw material samples over the past two decades has shown that the incidence of contamination amongst high quality products that are regularly tested for banned substances are significantly lower (better than 1 in 5000) compared to products that do not undergo any banned substance testing, which can be as high as a 1 in 10 risk.
The Informed Choice certification process requires both a manufacturing quality system audit and pre-registration product testing. A thorough review of quality assurance systems, raw materials, and supply chain is carried out to ensure there is little risk of contamination in the finished product. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Product evaluation including formulation, label claims, nutritional labeling, contaminant testing, etc.
- Raw material evaluation at each production site
- Review of accreditations held by the manufacturing and packing facility, such as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
- Quality system and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) review for raw material storage and handling, review of SOPs for production and packaging, equipment cleaning, staff training, product traceability, etc.
- Raw material supplier assessment
- Finished goods storage and distribution evaluation
Pre-certification product testing is also required prior to acceptance onto the Informed Choice program. This includes testing of 3 or more samples from different production runs to establish a history of testing.
Only after the audit is satisfactory and the product testing has shown no contamination issues can the product be registered into the program and carry the Informed Choice mark.
Once the product is certified, monthly blind sample testing through purchase from retail outlets is carried out to ensure the products in the market are safer for use. All tested batches of product are listed on this website. They can be found on the Certified Products page or by simply typing in the name of the supplement in the search bar. (Note: With Informed Choice not all batches of products are tested and won't appear on our website, as the products are tested monthly by skip-lot testing and random blind sample purchase)