Great quality doesn’t come easy. It takes a company-wide commitment. Years ago, Frontier decided to become the quality leader in the natural food industry. Today you can't work at Frontier without being conscious of quality -- it's woven in to every part of the business. If you're a new employee in a packaging area, you'll learn your first day that part of your job is to stop production and call Quality Assurance if you spot a potential problem. If you're a financial manager, you know that lowering product quality is not an acceptable cost-cutting measure. If you're in sales and marketing, you depend on Frontier's ability to consistently deliver superior quality at competitive prices. There are no secrets or gimmicks to Frontier quality. Just hard work and commitment.
Quality from the Start: Frontier actively recruits and develops quality organic growers. For over a decade, we have been one of the largest buyers of organic herbs in the United States. We visit growers all over the world to observe and discuss the growing and harvesting of the herbs and spices we buy. Over the years, we've have built relationships with quality-conscious suppliers who consistently provide the best of a year's crop and respect our standards-including no irradiated products. Thorough inspection of a pre-shipment sample is performed on each product Frontier buys. Using our in-house lab as well as independent labs, we run tests for flavor, color, aroma, moisture, mesh size, volatile oil content, bacteria count, pesticides, and herbicides. Only 40% of the samples we test are approved and released for production.
Maintaining Quality: Once herbs and spices arrive at Frontier, every aspect of their handling is done with quality in mind. We have climate controlled storage (60 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% relative humidity) to preserve freshness and volatile plant constituents. We were the first in the herb and spice industry to use carbon dioxide fumigation -- a safe, effective alternative to chemical fumigation agents such as methyl-bromide (which has recently been identified as a serious ozone threat as well). Strict sanitation rules are enforced through regular inspections by Quality Assurance. Product handling, processing and packaging systems are all set up to maximize the quality of the final product. Exposure to moisture and heat is minimized at all times. Much of our grinding is done cryogenically at temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero to prevent the loss of quality which may result from the heat of grinding. Our herbs and spices are packaged in materials which ensure the optimum quality of a product -- foil laminate pouches and glass bottles.
Monitoring Quality: We know we're maintaining quality at Frontier because we check it every step of the way. Our Quality Assurance team monitors everything from the temperature in the warehouse to samples of each batch of seasoning blend. A sophisticated system of computerized inventory allows any herb or spice, even a minor ingredient in a blend, to be instantly located or traced back to its origin. If questions are raised about the quality of an herb or spice, the whole lot can be quickly located and checked.
Sourcing Botanicals: Frontier sources the highest quality botanical raw materials from all over the world, including herbs, spices, essential oils and vanilla beans. But there is more to it than quality. We also consider the social and environmental impact of all our purchases. Our first choice is always organic. We offer support to the communities that grow our botanicals, and help strengthen economies by buying from many areas where economic development is poor, including Peru, Mexico, Russia, Africa and Native Indian communities. We send our buyers around the globe to develop personal relationships with growers and organic growing communities.
Testing: We combine sophisticated testing equipment with traditional testing methods using taste, touch, smell and sight to ensure our customers are getting the highest quality products. Frontier performs extensive testing on every incoming lot. About half of the raw materials available for purchase do not meet our high quality standards. Some testing methods used to determine quality include:
HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography): Measures active constituent levels in herbs.
GC (gas chromatography) and MS (Mass Spectrometry): Identifies and quantifies volatile components in essential oils.
Microanalysis: Reveals cellular structure of plants to determine identity and adulteration.
Microbiological Testing: Tests levels of yeast, mold and bacterial pathogens.
Organoleptic Testing: Taste, smell and sight tests determine quality and screen out adulterated product.
Aromatherapy Testing: Numerous tests are performed on our essential oils to ensure purity and quality. In addition to gas chromatography (GC), we utilize tests for specific gravity, optical rotation, refractive index and sensory analysis. Each essential oil has a particular weight, a direction and degree in which light rays bend when passing through the oil, and a speed at which light is refracted.
Highly Qualified Staff Ravin Donald, Ph.D. Vice President of Quality Assurance and Research and Development Plus a staff of highly trained Technicians
No Irradiation: Frontier does not sell any products or use any ingredients that have been sterilized by irradiation.
Cryogenic Grinding: We grind most of our herbs and spices in-house with cryogenic grinding. Raw materials are ground at zero to minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit to protect volatile components. Normal grinding temperatures can reach 200 degrees, damaging heat-sensitive components. Our research shows that cryogenic grinding delivers up to 22% higher levels of active constituents.
Ideal Storage Conditions: Our herb and spice warehouse in our Norway, Iowa, facility is kept at a maximum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% relative humidity all year long. These are ideal storage conditions for maintaining the quality of raw botanicals. The higher the temperature, the faster the volatilization and degradation of the plant materials. As a rule of thumb in chemistry, for every 18 degrees increase in temperature the reaction rate doubles.
Freshness Dating: Many of our packaged products are freshness-dated to help ensure that our customers receive the freshest possible products.