Quality Control and Testing
What types of quality control and testing should mushroom supplements undergo?
When the mushrooms first arrive at the facility they should be cleaned and quarantined apart from the other raw materials to avoid contamination.
After being cleaned the mushrooms should be sorted to get rid of any that are not up to specifications, such as those that are rotting or that may no longer have therapeutic value, among other things.
At this stage, every mushroom should be identified using organoleptic testing, to make sure it is the right species.
Organoleptic testing is the use of the senses: taste, touch, and smell.
Now if a company is not harvesting the mushroom themselves but instead getting barrels of powdered or liquid mushrooms then they would need to perform more sophisticated testing methods, such as HPLC and others, in order to ensure that the raw material is what it is claimed to be.
However, since the companies we use wild-harvest their own mushrooms they do not need to worry about the typical raw material adulteration that occurs and can simply use organoleptic testing at this step in the process.
At this stage the mushrooms should be tested for things such as, but not limited to:
1. Harmful bacteria such as salmonella, bacillus and many others.
2.Harmful fungus, molds, and yeasts such as aspergillus, aflatoxin, green mold, and many others.
This testing is usually performed using a variety of plating methods, you can read more about that here:
Herbicides, Fungicides, and Pesticides
Harvesting Mushrooms deep in the woods means there is less risk of contamination with traditional chemicals used in farming, but they still should be tested for these things.
Here are the USP guidelines for testing:
Mushrooms should be tested for heavy metals such as, but not limited to lead, cadmium and arsenic.
Mushrooms harvested in the United States have a much lower chance of being contaminated with heavy metals than those from China.
There is even a practice in China of intentionally using lead in Cordyceps mushrooms:
Here are the USP guidelines for heavy metal testing:
This is one of the biggest problems in mushroom supplements.
Most mushroom supplements sold are actually just ground up mycelium grown on grain.
These products can often be 80% or more starch because it is mostly just the partially digested grain in the capsule not mushroom.
This is actually one test you can do at home, to see if your mushroom supplement has lots of starch in it.
Check out the video to the left so you can see how to perform the iodine starch test for yourself and see it performed on some popular brands of mushroom supplements.
Potency and Secondary Compounds
Many mushrooms contain unique compounds that are often not found in other mushrooms, such as NGF in Lions Mane.
These compounds each require a different testing method.
We will cover the unique testing needs for these compounds on the page for each mushroom.
Polysaccharides, including beta-glucans, are a much more complicated testing topic and will be covered on their own page.