How to verify the authenticity of supplements

Counterfeit supplements are becoming more common and online retail platforms offer the perfect place to sell fake products to health-conscious consumers. How can you see if your supplements are real?
3 mins read

The use of health supplements has increased a lot in recent years. It is so common to take supplements, that a reported 77% of Americans consume supplements daily. This growing interest brings a lot of opportunities, but unfortunately, it also brings fraud. Counterfeit supplements are becoming more and more common and online retail platforms offer the perfect place to sell fake products to health-conscious consumers.

How big is the counterfeit product problem?

If you’re among the 77% of the people who enjoy taking supplements, chances are you have wondered at some point whether those fancy supplements you bought on Amazon are authentic. And it’s not weird to think about it. It is estimated that counterfeit and pirated goods account for 2.5% of the global economy. Keep in mind that this is a general statistic. Counterfeit medicine has been estimated to account for up to 30% of the supply in developing countries, and the scary truth is that when it comes to supplements, we’re not entirely sure how big the problem is.

This may not sound like such a big deal if it’s about a pair of pants, but if it’s about something you put into your body every day, it’s a very, very different story.

The risk behind fake supplements

Counterfeit supplements end up in consumer’s cabinets every single day. Is it some starch in a pill or is it a multi-strain probiotic? Is it a pure B-complex or does it contain hidden toxic ingredients? 

Whilst the consumption of fake supplements can turn out to be nothing serious, fake supplements can also contain dangerous ingredients that may harm your health. The worst part is that it is very difficult for the average consumer to know when they’re dealing with a fake.

On the one hand, we may have supplements that cause immediate reactions due to its content. Whilst this is scary, you can immediately discontinue use. On the other hand, you could be dealing with ingredients that only affect you over longer periods of time. This means that you may be consuming pills every day that contain toxic trace metals, which only damage your body over time.

It’s a scary thing to think about, and unfortunately most suppliers don’t have good ways to verify whether you’re dealing with an authentic product.

Using blockchain technology to verify authenticity

Suppliers and manufacturers of supplements are in a pickle. In a market where consumers demand product excellence, suppliers do their very best to deliver just that. Premium brands are abundant, but the reality is that fake products endanger customers, brands and the market as a whole. Companies struggle with brand-protection. What makes it all even more difficult is that there isn’t really a good way to verify the authenticity of products. Well, there wasn’t, but blockchain technology may offer a helping hand.

Blockchain technology is famous as an investment device. But it really can offer much more than that. At its very core, it’s a decentralized ledger of data. You can commit any kind of data to this ledger, and it’s very, very hard (impossible) to change this data.

If we translate this technology to the supplements industry, we can imagine how blockchain could allow us to check whether a specific supplement is authentic, where it was made, what ingredients it contains, if it was made by a legitimate supplier and whether it was sold by a legitimate vendor. Essentially, it allows consumers to verify the entire supply chain of the product for authenticity.

How to verify the authenticity of supplements
Even independent third party certification authorities can be included in the Blockchain supply chain verification process.

The process isn’t really that complex either. With a solution like LifeHash, the manufacturer can record each step in the manufacturing process to the blockchain ledger through a simple scanning mechanism. The packaging will then contain a code specific to that individual item, which can be scanned by vendors and consumers to verify authenticity. When the consumer scans the package with their phone, they’d simply get to see whether the product is authentic and where it comes from.

So whilst the counterfeit problem is a big one, there are also solutions. Blockchain technology could help you fight the counterfeit products problem. And moreso, providing consumers with a way to verify authenticity doesn’t only protect their health, it also sets your brand apart.

Are you interested in how you could apply this to your company? We’re always open for a chat or brainstorm.

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What is a counterfeit product?

A counterfeit product is a product that is not from the real manufacturer but is made to look as if it is from the real manufacturer.

What is a counterfeit example?

Counterfeiting is very common with luxury products from premium brands. This includes electronics, fashion items, supplements and even medication.

Is it OK to buy counterfeit items?

It is not OK to buy counterfeit items. In many cases, the manufacturing process isn’t properly controlled, resulting in potential damage to the environment, use of slavery and the use of harmful substances in the process. Furthermore, it damages legitimate businesses.

How do you know if a supplement is authentic?

Currently, most companies don't offer a good way to check authenticity. If you suspect counterfeiting, contact the brand for verification and contact your local authorities.

How do you verify authenticity?

If the brand you are trying to verify uses LifeHash, you can verify authenticity by scanning the product’s code with your phone.

What are the consequences of counterfeit supplements?

Counterfeit supplements can seriously damage your health. There are cases where hormonal or liver issues have been reported. If you suspect supplements of being counterfeit, discontinue use and contact the supplier or manufacturer.

How can you tell if supplements are fake?

Currently, it is best to contact the manufacturing with pictures and details of the product. Unfortunately, that is not always conclusive. If your supplier uses LifeHash, you can simply verify the authenticity by scanning the product’s QR code.


Proof of authenticity
Brand protection

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