As published in HealthSourceMag — June 2, 2022 — read the original
With the wellness industry growing at astounding rates year after year, it can seem nearly impossible to stand out. Thorne HealthTech, however, is officially up to the task. With a commitment to "science-driven wellness" and product quality and purity, Thorne is setting itself apart from competitors and helping consumers live happier and healthier lives.
"What really separates us from our competitors is our quality and purity,” says Aaron Denzler, a Thorne HealthTech research manager. “We've made decisions along the road to eliminate and reduce the use of unneeded excipients and fillers, and we are genuinely interested in the outcome and wellbeing of our customers."
Whether upholding its commitment to fewer excipients and fillers or ensuring product integrity relative to expiration dates, Thorne HealthTech stands behind its products—capsules, ready-to-mix powders, and dissolvable beverage disks—and the processes used to make them. And managing water is a big part of that process.
"Water is a big challenge, especially as you eliminate certain excipients and fillers," Denzler says. "It can complicate manufacturing and shelf life, but we are up to the task. To do it correctly, we need data showing us what water is doing in our product, how it's affected by manufacturing, and what steps we need to take."
And that's where METER comes in. Denzler has been using the AQUALAB VSA—the fastest and most accurate moisture measurement tool on the market—and its accompanying software (included in the Moisture Analysis Toolkit) to gather critical water data faster and more accurately than ever before.
As far as Denzler is concerned, nothing is more valuable than data—which is precisely what the VSA delivers. The ability to determine critical water activity levels and glass transition points, Denzler says, helps Thorne HealthTech know when the quality of a product will decline and lets them confidently stand by the claims on their labels.
“[The VSA] allows us to determine critical water activities,” Denzler says. “It helps us determine shelf life. We can predict shelf life as long as we complete the calculations. It can give me a glass transition point, so I can look and identify a trouble spot within our product. And I can make data-driven decisions based on the output that we're getting.”
Denzler recently used VSA data to solve a perplexing issue with a product when a dissolvable beverage disk was adhering to its packaging, even though the available data didn't show any checkpoints where the problem should occur. After testing the product in the VSA (to gather necessary data to create a moisture sorption isotherm and run shelf-life calculations), Denzler was confident, despite information to the contrary from the packaging company, that the issue was with the packaging. And he was right. The packaging material they were using didn’t have the water vapor transmission rate promised by the packaging company and therefore didn’t create an adequate vapor barrier for the product.
“The VSA knocked it out of the park,” Denzler says. “The VSA told us exactly what happened. The data was so strong from the VSA. It made the decision to test the packaging material a no-brainer. It was instant.”
Some people think you must choose between time and money, but Denzler says you can save both by using the VSA and Moisture Analysis Toolkit.
“Being able to have another data point to extend the shelf life saves us money,” Denzler says. “It saves money manufacturing, that's for sure. Combining sales forecasts with shelf life data saves us money through balance of inventory. And it saves money managing the inventory, being able to know that you're safe having a product sit that long.”
Denzler also says using the VSA has helped him develop better products from the get-go and more easily meet product launch deadlines.
And then there's time. According to Denzler, using the VSA is much faster than using standard accelerated conditions and allows him to get an early peek at whether a product is viable and what the shelf life is going to be. Using the Moisture Analysis Toolkit, which Denzler says he does daily, has also saved him time while doing calculations and creating reports to distribute to other departments.
"I can take the data, and I can let the toolkit do a majority of the work for me,” Denzler says. “As far as duration, it makes it fast.”
Thorne HealthTech's ambitious wellness mission and the unrivaled features of the VSA and Moisture Analysis Toolkit are a powerful match. Denzler looks forward to continuing to disrupt the wellness industry with more data and better results.
"Not everyone has this data [from the VSA], and we do—it's a game-changer," Denzler says.