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The ABCs of Using Standard Reference Materials in the Analysis of Foods and Dietary Supplements: A Practical Guide



Katherine E. Sharpless, David L. Duewer, Katrice A. Lippa, Andrew L. Rukhin


Although "nutraceuticals" and "functional foods" seem to be ill-defined terms, both are often used to indicate a food that contains compounds providing benefits beyond basic nutrition, often with the expectation that these compounds are protective against chronic disease. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been producing food-matrix Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) since the mid-1970s. Early materials were characterized solely for elements. Values were assigned for organic analytes in food-matrix SRMs beginning in 1996 and in dietary supplements beginning in 2006. Although none of the NIST food or dietary supplement SRMs were categorized as functional foods per se, many of them have values assigned for components that put the "functional" in functional foods - e.g., antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc. Recommendations for use of these and other natural-matrix SRMs as quality assurance tools are discussed in this paper: from selecting an appropriate material to validating analytical methods, characterizing in-house quality control materials, and establishing traceability.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - sp260-181rev1
Report Number


Certified reference material, Standard Reference Material, quality control, food, dietary supplement, analysis, control chart


Sharpless, K. , Duewer, D. , Lippa, K. and Rukhin, A. (2015), The ABCs of Using Standard Reference Materials in the Analysis of Foods and Dietary Supplements: A Practical Guide, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created September 16, 2015, Updated January 27, 2020