Return to Homepage

ICR Quality Scale


Quality Scale (full version)

Email Us!



NB: Click here for the Quality Scale summary


ICR QUALITY SCALE


BACKGROUND

Colostrum is not only a highly nutritious functional food but it is also a substance that contains many life supporting and health promoting substances. The significance of colostrum is best illustrated by the fact that most animals require colostrum just after birth to survive. Some of these life supporting and growth promoting substances are as follows: antibodies, immune factors, growth factors, attachment factors, cytokines, oligosaccharides, essential fatty acids, and phospholipids. The remarkable thing about colostrum is that all these substances act synergistically in such a way as to enhance the overall affect of each individual component.

Colostrum has many functions and properties, which makes it most probably the "single most important food in the world". Among these properties is the ability to fight disease and to promote growth & well-being.

Colostrum has also been shown to speed up the recovery process following injury and stress. Other attributes associated with colostrum include: anti-aging properties, balanced blood sugar levels, increased performance, increased mental alertness and its' action in weight loss - specifically, accelerating the burning of fat.

Overall health begins in the gut and this is where colostrum's actions begin. The significance of colostrum is self-promoting in that good health has no substitute. Whether young or old - fit or weak colostrum can be of benefit.

Backed by literally thousands of research studies and clinical trials colostrum has been shown to be an effective means by which overall health can be obtained.


Colostrum is not only a highly nutritious functional food but it is also a substance that contains many life supporting and health promoting substances. The significance of colostrum is best illustrated by the fact that most animals require colostrum just after birth to survive. Some of these life supporting and growth promoting substances are as follows: antibodies, immune factors, growth factors, attachment factors, cytokines, oligosaccharides, essential fatty acids, and phospholipids. The remarkable thing about colostrum is that all these substances act synergistically in such a way as to enhance the overall affect of each individual component.

Colostrum has many functions and properties, which makes it most probably the "single most important food in the world". Among these properties is the ability to fight disease and to promote growth & well-being. Colostrum has also been shown to speed up the recovery process following injury and stress. Other attributes associated with colostrum include: anti-aging properties, balanced blood sugar levels, increased performance, increased mental alertness and its' action in weight loss - specifically, accelerating the burning of fat.

Overall health begins in the gut and this is where colostrum's actions begin. The significance of colostrum is self-promoting in that good health has no substitute. Whether young or old - fit or weak colostrum can be of benefit. Backed by literally thousands of research studies and clinical trials colostrum has been shown to be an effective means by which overall health can be obtained.

The sales of colostrum for the basic maintenance of good health are rising dramatically. Add to this the increased use of colostrum in the medical, food, and nutraceutical markets. This growth is fantastic as colostrum is truly nature's "wonder food". It is not only a highly nutritious food but also contains numerous factors, which not only help fight disease, but also help to promote growth and the healing process. In short, colostrum helps to promote overall good health and well-being. It does this by removing existing deficiencies, promoting the power of resistance and by supporting the healing process.

With the increase in consumption of colostrum a dramatic rise in the number of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors has been observed. Add to this the dramatic rise in various types of formulated colostrum products available to the consumer. Unfortunately associated with this growth it has been observed that the quality of some colostrum products are better then others. And more concerning is that many claims by some distributors of colostrum products are confusing, incorrect or clearly misleading.

The Institute of Colostrum Research (ICR) has undertaken to establish a criteria by which colostrum products can be evaluated. ICR has undertaken this task as to educate the consumer as to how to judge colostrum products from different distributors. In this way the consumer can make a more educated choice as to what colostrum product is best.

What is the ICR Quality Scale?

Simply it is a method by which one can quantify (measure) the quality of a colostrum product. Different manufacturers use various processes to manufacture their colostrum products. They also source their colostrum from different suppliers. In addition manufactures vary as to what additives and ingredients they add to their colostrum products. The ICR Quality Scale is designed to measure or quantify the quality of colostrum products.


Key Quality Indicators (KQI's) of colostrum are as follows:

1) Pasteurization

2) Low Temperature Processing

3) Immunoglobulins Value - levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM

4) Growth Factor Values - IGF, TGF, TNF, EGF

5) Immune Factors - Lactoferrin, Cytokines, Lysozyme, Lactoperoxidase

6) Environmental Factors Influencing Quality

7) Quality Manufacturing

8) Additives

9) Solubility (Dispersibility)

10) Science

 

Pasteurisation.

This is a crucial step in any commercial dairy process. Do not purchase any colostrum product that has not been pasteurized. There are alternative methods that employ other means of sterilization but these must meet the same International Standards as pasteurization.

 

Low Temperature Processing

It is imperative that colostrum be processed in such a way as to avoid prolonged exposure to heat. Pasteurisation is necessary and is performed as to ensure microbiological quality.

Typically this is performed at 72C for a period of 15 seconds. It has been shown that pasteurization has no significant negative effect on the bioactive molecules present in colostrum. The drying process used by some colostrum manufacturers may have a detrimental effect on colostrum quality. Specifically, in the case of spray-drying - which is the most common method of drying colostrum - some manufacturers of colostrum powder may incorporate high heat for prolonged periods.

This can be evidenced in the final product in the form of discoloured product, poor solubility, very low or no growth factors present, low immunoglobulin and other protein levels.

 

Immunoglobulins Value

The great majority of colostrum retailers stipulate only Immunoglobulin G (IgG) values. Colostrum is more then just IgG - in fact IgG is only one of the immunoglobulins. The immunoglobulin fraction present in colostrum consists of IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD, and IgE. Both IgD and IgE are present in very low quantities whereas IgG, IgA, and IgM are found in considerable amounts. Thus commercial sources will optimally give also IgA and IgM, in addition to IgG, values.

 

Affinity vs. Immuno Assay

Currently, most manufactures of colostrum determine IgG concentration by using a technique called - Protein G HPLC. Protein G can only be used for obtaining IgG values and cannot be used for determining IgA and IgM. Further, Protein G was not designed for determining IgG values but rather for the processing of IgG.


The use of Protein G to determine IgG values was a nice little trick developed by the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute. The basis for using Protein G is that it possesses an affinity to a portion of the IgG molecule (Fc portion). As such this technique can be referred to as an "Affinity Assay".

The commonest and most recognized methods employed to measure specific protein levels are commonly referred to as "Immuno Assays". These types of assays employ specific antibodies that are directed towards the protein (antigen) under investigation. In fact these antibodies are not only specific but are also monospecific - in that they will only react with that same protein. With the exception of IgG all the other proteins are quantified using Immuno Assays.

There are various types of immunoassays, examples would be radial immunodiffussion (RID), Enzyme Linked Immuno Assay (ELISA), Nephelometry, Turbidometry, and Rocket Electro-Phoresis (RIEP). In some cases these techniques are highly automated (Nephelometry) whereas others are labor intensive (ELISA). In some cases Immuno Assays are available in commercially available kit form (RID and ELISA).

 

Standardisation

Approximately 20 years ago the World Health Association (WHO) in conjunction with the American Association of Clinical Pathologists (AACP) conducted a study to establish a world standard for human plasma proteins. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing no such equivalent exists for bovine colostrum proteins. This means there is a lack of standardization involving the quantitation of bovine proteins. Though this may seem to be a minor issue the reality is that it is a major issue indeed. This is especially true when comparing different colostrum products from different manufacturers who use different methods to measure the proteins present.

A major problem associated with assigning specific protein values to colostrum products, at present, is that there appears to be a very wide variation in what is actually present. Most suppliers of colostrum provide Immunoglobulin G (IgG) values for their products. At present this is how most colostrum is judged - by its IgG content. A preliminary investigation was conducted comparing Protein G and RID quantitaton of IgG.

In this investigation involving four commercially available RID kits it was revealed that a variation of up to 40% in quantified IgG value was observed between the kits (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Comparability study of commercially available Bovine IgG standards quantified for IgG content by RID using the individual companies RID test kit standards.


This variability is simply not acceptable. Until there is a universally accepted standard for IgG and the other bovine colostrum proteins the best advise to the consumer is simple - "Let the buyer beware".

Very recently we conducted a comparison study involving four commercially available colostrum products. These products were sent to an independent registered and accredited laboratory in order to have the immunoglobulin G (IgG) determined. The method of analysis was Protein G HPLC. The quantified values determined by the independent laboratory were then compared to the respective label values of the products.

The results ranged from -46.7% lower IgG then stated to 50% more IgG than stated on the label - an overall variability of close to 100%. Once again simply not good enough!



Growth Factors & Immune Factors

Commercially available immunoassay kits are presently available for the quantitation of Lactoferrin, Lactoperoxidase, Lysozyme, Interleukin, Interferon, Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF), Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF), Transforming Growth Factor (TGF), and Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF). In addition immunological reagents in the form of primary antibodies reactive to these molecules are also commercially available. As such why aren't these growth factors and immune factors routinely assayed in all colostrum products?

Prolonged exposure to heat or over processing can have a detrimental effect on any or possibly all these bioactive molecule. As such it is imperative that to ensure high quality and bioactivity the colostrum must be produced in such a way as to avoid elevated temperatures. Low growth factor levels will indicate that most probably the colostrum was subjected to high heat processing.

 

Enviromental Factors

The environment from which the colostrum is sourced is key to the supply of good quality colostrum. A recent investigation conducted at Otago University, New Zealand revealed that a natural non-hypermmunised commercially available product had significantly higher specific antibody titres to 19 pathogens as compared to a commercially available equivalent which was derived from cows actively hyperimmunised (vaccinated) against these same 19 pathogens.

These results are significant in that it appears that natural immunization in the form of chronic low dose exposure via the oral route is far superior to active hyperimmunisation. The non-immunized colostrum product in the Otago study was derived from the colostrum or early milk of healthy, untreated, New Zealand pasture fed cows.

New Zealand has a very temperate climate, this combined with their farming practices may possibly make New Zealand the absolute best source of colostrum. The countryside combined with the perfect combination of environmental factors all contribute to a flourishing wide variety of flora and fauna. The winters are not harsh and thus the cows are allowed to roam freely and feed in the pastures. In this way they are continually being exposed to a wide variety of naturally occurring microbes and thus are naturally being immunized. The fact that only pasture fed animals are used ensures that New Zealand colostrum contains high levels of specific antibody to a wide array of various microbes.

 

Additives

Various manufacturers add any one of a number of additives to their colostrum products. The important thing is that the additives not hinder the effectiveness and bio-availability of the colostrum. It is also important that any additive not have a negative or detrimental effect on the colostrum. A case in point is one manufacture who utilizes Papain as an additive in one of their colostrum products. Papain is an enzyme derived from the papaya fruit and is typically used as a digestive aid. Unfortunately, this manufacturer obviously doesn't realize that papain is a proteolytic enzyme and it digests proteins.

In fact, papain is typically used to cleave the IgG molecule in certain research applications. It most certainly also cleaves (partially digests) the other immunoglobulins as well. It's effect on growth factors, immune factors and other bio-active constituents in colostrum - who knows?

 

Quality Manufactured Product

Is the colostrum manufactured to the highest standards? To make sure only government certified colostrum producers and processors should be used. These organizations would have Product Safety Programs in place so as to ensure that all the colostrum they produce is of the highest standard.

 

Solubility

Solubility is an important issue to consider. This is especially true since poor solubility can reflect poor bio-availability of the product. Causes of poor solubility are usually linked with flaws in manufacturing- such as high heat exposure, over processing, and drying conditions. Is the colostrum powder soluble in water? Well it should be if it was processed correctly. If it is not then it most likely is second rate.

 

Science

Many claims by some distributors of colostrum products are confusing, incorrect or clearly misleading. Does the manufacturer or distributor of the colostrum back their product with proper science. Is the scientific and technical information associated with the product correct? A credible supplier of colostrum products will back up any such information with referenced material.

Further no responsible supplier of nutraceutical products, such as colostrum, would make any direct health claims. This is especially true as labeling and product information restrictions are quite clear in that only registered drugs (pharmaceuticals) can make any specific health claims. It must be noted that there are a number of "Fringe Lunatic" type of companies that are operational in the field unfortunately. Their marketing is truly aggressive and their credibility is questionable - hopefully their existence is short termed.

 

 

 | 

Design by: Go-fx.com Visual Communication