Mountain Rose Herbs

Quality Control

Since 1987 Mountain Rose Herbs has become the leading organic botanical products company, delivering some of the world's finest herbs and spices. Often we have observed the word "quality" being loosely used, abused and coined in practically every piece of marketing material found, creating distrust and uneasiness with the buyer.

For us quality means three very important things that you can be guaranteed…

  1. Certified organic or pesticide free plants which were harvested in a sound, and sustainable manner
  2. A lovely, tasty, effective and consistent product that exceeds customers expectations
  3. A product that is proven safe through quantitative analysis

At Mountain Rose Herbs we take pride in each and every product we offer you.

From the moment the material is purchased to the time it comes onto our docks we monitor and log each and every step of the process to fulfill our quality promise to our customers. From harvest site inspection, and pre-ship screening, to comprehensive laboratory analysis, we complete a thorough program before allowing botanical materials to be sold to our customers.

We hope you enjoy firsthand, the quality found in all of our products, and we will continue to work diligently into the future to be your reliable organic botanical products company.

Sourcing Botanicals

At Mountain Rose Herbs the first criteria for purchasing botanicals is the potential social and environmental impact that the purchase of the material may make. This not only applies to materials from overseas, but here in the U.S. as well. We have a strict policy that guarantees workers a fair market value for the goods they produce and that any items we purchase from countries outside of the U.S. have a clean human rights record. We have dropped items altogether and refused to carry particular products because laborers were not given an equal voice, a fair wage, or because we felt sensitive bioregions were being compromised. Our first choice is always certified organic, and if organic is not available we will choose a wildharvested or "cultivated without chemicals" variety. If wild gathered material is harvested then each gatherer must fill out a "wild take audit" to ensure that indigenous populations have only undergone a 10% take and that they have not been over-picked, or disrespected. All materials from overseas are scrutinized for soil, water, and fertilizer quality and we request that materials are grown in regions or provinces that have a stellar reputation for their cleanliness and environmental purity.

Quality In The Field

Mountain Rose Herbs currently has more than 11 organic farm operations producing some of our most popular botanicals, and each one is randomly visited for full organic and quality control compliance. In addition to this, we occasionally visit some of our non-farm sources to investigate and monitor all of the quality control points, which include inspection of the grounds, review of the harvesting methods, and the surveying of the final material. Since 1987 we have built solid foundations with suppliers who consistently provide quality herbs and spices with respect to each of our very stringent standards.

Quality Before And After Receipt

Before any botanicals are allowed into our facilities we request a "pre-ship" sample for analysis. This sample is analysed using Organoleptic and laboratory methods, and if approved, it is authorized for order. When the material we ordered arrives to our facility it is immediately quarantined for QC review. Here a qualified quality control member will extract samples for immediate testing in our laboratory and the first step involves moisture readings. We test all of our materials for moisture counts using a digital analyzer which can give us the precise levels found in herbs and spices. (Materials with high counts are susceptible to mold, fungus, and bacterial outbreaks) If too much moisture is found then the items are sent back immediately.

If the item passes the preliminary moisture testing then it is forwarded to the lab for full analysis.

Laboratory Testing

Mountain Rose Herbs was the first mass market herbal products company to establish and run a full microbial and analytical lab, and to this day we maintain our reputation as having the most complete and sophisticated certificates of analysis available. Here is where our botanicals are extensively analysed and measured for total quality control, and any potential threats to human health. If any material does not pass strict approval limits, it is immediately rejected.

Organoleptic Testing

Despite all the advances in analytical technology, the human senses have proven to be superior in determining a quality product. This is evidenced by the fact that machines have not yet replaced the professional wine, food or cheese critic. Organoleptic testing includes, color, flavor, texture, aroma, and size. This is always performed by those with at least 10+ years in botanical identification and knowledge.

Identity Testing

In order for us to confirm that our customers are getting the exact species of any herb or spice that we offer, Mountain Rose Herbs utilizes high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) to help us establish the identity of our botanicals. Chromatography is a vital tool that we use to determine the identity and purity of our products. Each plant has a unique mixture of constituents, and through this sophisticated method of separating substances of two or more compounds, we are able to create a chromagraph or "fingerprint" to identify a specific herb. These fingerprints are then compared to reference samples in our library to prove product purity and identify any known adulterants.

Moisture Count Analysis

Using the latest in moisture count technology we prepare and feed samples into a digital analyzer to give us a precise measure of a particular herbs moisture count. This is very important because material that is too moist is prone to mold, fungus, and bacterial outbreaks. If an item reads higher then 12% moisture then we will refuse it.

Macroscopic and Extraneous Analysis

This technique reveals the cellular structure of botanicals to determine identity, adulteration, extraneous matter and general cleanliness. Current methods include using a 400x zoom stereoscope and we sample our materials into petri dishes to isolate and determine total foreign matter. This helps us in determining general filth, mammalian excreta and other non-allowed matter. Material that is filthy or having high levels of extraneous matter is rejected.

Microbiological Testing

Mountain Rose Herbs tests for threatening food borne bacteria, mold, and yeast. This is done to ensure human safety, and the health of our customers.

We test for E. coli, Salmonella, Total Aerobic Bacteria, Yeast, Mold, and Coliforms.

Our current allowable limit for microbial contaminants found in herbal material is far below herbal industry standards and the testing methods currently used include traditional plate systems in conjunction with the Soleris laser system to confirm results. All of our methods adhere to the standards set out by AHPA.

Heavy Metal Testing

Heavy metals (Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, etc) can be lethal and in a recent survey conducted in Canada it was found that many herbs and spices contained threatening levels of heavy metals, most of which is naturally occurring. Mountain Rose Herbs periodically tests its materials for heavy metals using a third party lab and our materials must pass EPA and FDA levels for heavy metals or they will not be offered to our customers.

Sulfite Testing

Because of the prominence of bathing or spraying Chinese herbs in sulfite compounds, Mountain Rose Herbs randomly screens and analyses materials imported from China for sulfite residues, and we will not approve or accept any herbs which contain detectable levels of sulfites. This testing is done by a third party lab.

Pesticide And Chemical Residue Testing

For all botanicals that are cultivated without chemicals, and for all imported materials, we take one additional step to guarantee that they are free from all chemical and pesticide residues. This process is done through testing procedures that check for up to 100 known and commonly found pesticides, organophosphates, and chemicals. A separate pesticide residue analysis is available upon request.

Irradiation and Sterilization

Mountain Rose Herbs is firmly against the use of controversial and sometimes unhealthy treatment methods which include irradiation, X-Ray, ozone, Ethylene Oxide and in many cases steam sterilization. Exposing plant materials to any of these methods is a dangerous practice and seriously jeopardizes the integrity of the plant material at hand. In the rare event that we must treat materials it is our policy to strictly use a low heat method. If any of our materials are treated, it will be outlined on the certificate of analysis.

Monitoring Quality

In order to guarantee you a true quality product, we carry our high standards into the actual warehouse.

Within our facilities and in our day to day work schedules, the Quality Control team routinely checks and logs each and every facet within our warehouse and production rooms. These routine checks help us in monitoring and recording cleaning schedules, maintaining equipment sterilization, performing swab sampling to test for surface cleanliness, and audits for environmental conditions. The environmental conditions monitored include strict pest control procedures, temperature and humidity controls, and the monitoring of staff and grounds cleanliness. All materials are kept from exposure to light (both natural and artificial), and the humidity of our warehouse is digitally controlled so that it never exceeds 50% humidity at any time. In addition to this we maintain a temperature controlled facility which maintains a yearly temperature average between 68-71 degrees.

Turnover Rate

All the herbs and spices stocked and processed by Mountain Rose Herbs were purchased strategically so when the product arrives in its freshest state we will be able to present it to you within a short period of time from the harvest. Most suppliers will usually purchase quantities large enough to last them several years, and often we have found some suppliers purchasing inventories large enough to last 4-5 years! Botanicals that are this aged are useless. You can depend on Mountain Rose Herbs to deliver fresh material that is usually within the year of harvest and sometimes just a few months from harvest.

Freshness Dating

All bulk botanical products that are shipped from Mountain Rose Herbs are stamped and labeled with "Packed On" dates, which helps the buyer in monitoring the shelf life of their material. Because shelf lives vary from product to product, we include freshness guidelines with each order.

Handling

Our trained and qualified staff handles all the materials offered by Mountain Rose Herbs with absolute precision and care. All of the products we offer are accurately labeled, true to botanical type, processed under hygienic conditions, and handled with complete professionalism. We currently have in place strict protocols surrounding the proper treatment and storage of dried botanicals with every facet of its production monitored and logged. Our entire warehouse staff have performed mandatory Organic Handling Training drafted by OTA and recognized by OTCO with the intention of protecting organic handling and processing conditions, and in addition to strict organic handling, our facilities and staff have been formally introduced and trained to work under cGMP conditions. To further our commitment to complete quality control, we are also certified through Earth Kosher Services who conduct quarterly inspections of our facilities.

Scientific Community Involvement

Our laboratory and quality control team regularly works with the American Herbal Products Association and we currently participate in several of the scientific and trade committees hosted by this essential organization. These committees are responsible for maintaining standards, implementing programs, and enhancing the scientific protocols within the herbal products industry. All of this further enhances our quality control procedures and helps to ensure safe and reliable materials.

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