The path TruTag has followed is similar to how Thermo Fisher Scientific got its start with its portable TruScan and microPHAZIR handheld scanners—developed for one industry and then applied to another. Thermo Fisher's handheld scanners originally were created to help pharmaceutical companies meet GMP standards. The company is now servicing the dietary supplement industry with its solution to identify raw ingredients and stave off potential adulteration with counterfeit materials.

Technologies such as these hold much potential for keeping counterfeit supplements off store shelves, but also for addressing quality issues the moment they occur. "It gets to the heart of two issues in the industry today, which are traceability and adulteration," said Todd Runestad, editor in chief of Functional Ingredients and the New Hope Supply Network, noting that TruTags would be particularly helpful for recalls. "If you had wide scale adoption of a technology such as this you could quickly and easily trace the problem," he said.