Foods and beverages that have naturally high levels of antioxidants are eligible, including: fresh fruits and vegetables, processed whole foods that concentrate natural antioxidant levels such as tomato paste, and beverages such as green teas and juices.
In order to be certified, a representative number of product samples are tested. All tests are conducted in accordance with American Organization of Analytical Chemists (AOAC) approved test methods. Test results must demonstrate that the product meets or exceeds the USDA average for the predominant antioxidant subclass. In addition, if certified foods or beverages must be prepared under certain conditions to achieve the certified levels, these instructions must be provided.
Currently, products containing the following antioxidant subclasses can be certified:
- Total Bioflavonoids
Because most antioxidants degrade rapidly, it is important to consume foods and beverages that contain a mix of essential antioxidants every day. To date, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not established Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) levels for antioxidants. As a result, consumers historically have had little guidance in how to set daily consumption goals. Now, through a careful review of the published medical and nutritional research literature, SCS has been able to identify Daily Intake levels from peer-reviewed sources that can serve as daily intake targets for consumers.
In order to establish these daily intake levels, SCS has combed the research to identify antioxidants that have measurable levels of bioavailability and are documented in traditional diets, such as the traditional Mediterranean diet. This represents a breakthrough in helping food and beverage companies communicate important information about these essential antioxidants to consumers.
This bar chart shows how mortality rates for common illnesses linked to antioxidant intake differ. The bars compare three diets – Okinawa, which has the most traditional diet; mainland Japan, which has adopted a more modern diet; and the US, with a diet low in these antioxidants.
 For instance, in “Polyphenols: Food Sources and Bioavailability, Manach et. al. report: “As a general rule, the metabolites of polyphenols are rapidly eliminated from plasma, which indicates that consumption of plant products on a daily basis is necessary to maintain high concentrations of metabolites in the blood.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004.
- Apply for Certification
Fill out and return the application form. Contact FoodAg@SCSglobalServices.com or call 510-452-8000.
- Authorize a Proposal.
SCS prepares a proposal for your approval with a suggested scope of work, timeline and quote. A certification agreement ensures confidentiality of information and establishes third-party certification parameters.
- Collect Samples.
Arrange for sample collection based on SCS Sample Collection Guidelines for lab testing, consistent with FDA protocols.
- Tier 1 Level Certification: To qualify for off-product antioxidant claims for use with your clients on a business-to-business basis, 3 samples are required for testing.
- Tier 2 Level Certification: To qualify for on-product labeling of your antioxidant content, an additional 7 samples are required.
- Conduct Laboratory Analysis
Samples are analyzed for antioxidant content. Sampling protocols are specific to the commodity and follow standardized guidelines.
- Evaluate Results
SCS provides a full report and analysis of results.
- Make Certification Decision
If the antioxidant levels meet or exceed our certification requirements, you will be issued a certificate. Otherwise, SCS reviews results with you to determine whether further sampling and testing is warranted.
- Issue Certification Logo
Tier 2 level certifications receive an approved on-product Kingfisher certification logo, along with logo use guidelines.
- Maintain Certification
Certificates are valid for one year. Annual retesting is required to maintain your certification.
The medical and nutritional scientific literature identifies numerous potential health benefits associated with antioxidants, including:
- Increased energy and vitality
- Increased mental clarity and focus and reduces age-related memory loss
- Lowered total cholesterol and LDL levels
- Strengthened immune system
- Reduced risk of cancer (colon, prostate, breast, lung, bladder, skin, cervix)
- Improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration
Making Health Claims
The FDA does not allow direct health benefit claims unless a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) level has been established. Accordingly, no product health benefit claims are allowed for Certified Antioxidant Superfoods. However, the FDA does allow statements of scientific fact, and references to peer reviewed research. All claims made under the Antioxidant Superfoods Certification program are compliant with this rule. SCS provides direct links to such published research.
Targeting Natural Sources of Antioxidants
While antioxidants have been widely extracted to produce dietary supplements and to augment foods, these extracts can lack the potency and effectiveness of naturally occurring antioxidants in foods and beverages. The Antioxidant Superfoods Certification program aims to reinvigorate sales of foods and beverages that are naturally rich in these substances by providing consumers with third-party certified results.
Research Supporting the Health Benefits of Antioxidants
Visit our Antioxidant References page for a complete listing of peer-reviewed research studies which examine the health benefits of antioxidants.
The following terms are used by the SCS Certified Antioxidant Superfood program.
- Antioxidant: “Any of various substances ... that inhibit oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen and peroxides, and that include many held to protect the living body from the deleterious effects of free radicals.” (Merriam-Webster)
- Daily Intake (DI): The amount of an antioxidant that is consumed within selected traditional diets and has been shown in published peer-reviewed research to provide health benefits. For total flavonoids, this amount is 500 mg/day, as derived by averaging the top 30th percentile of total intake by subclass and the top 30th percentile of total intake by country.
- Subclass: A category or specific type of antioxidant found in a specific group, such as Flavonoids, Carotenoids, etc.
- Traditional Diets: The foods found to be characteristic in the diets of residents in long-settled regions and countries of the world, such as the Mediterranean, Japan, Italy, and France, where dietary factors are linked to reduced incidence of disease and rates of mortality.