of the criteria because (1) information in the material reviewed was insufficient to determine the extent to which a criterion was generally met, and (2) available information was likely to vary from ingredient to ingredient or the available information required in-depth analysis beyond the scope of this report. For example, it is necessary to know what safety data are available and should have been considered to determine whether the authors or organizations paid appropriate attention to all the relevant information when providing a safety conclusion in the resource. Empty cells in the table should be considered limitations in this examination, not in the resource itself.
Several examples of questions that are difficult to answer warrant explanation. Question 4, for example, was not answered at all because conclusions about whether data were weighed appropriately require knowledge of what type of information is available on a particular ingredient and may vary significantly from ingredient to ingredient, especially in the resources that were comprised of monographs authored by different individuals. Of note, however, was the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) process, which described in detail how data were analyzed.
Table 2-1 answers Question 7 (“How current is the information?”) by examining whether current literature was cited, but the importance of using current literature will depend on the ingredient being considered and whether there is new information that also should be considered. Question 8 regarding the use of accurate citations cannot be answered until one tries to locate the citations and determine whether they exist and, if so, whether they document the information attributed to them. Question 9, regarding balance and objectivity, was answered for some resources by considering whether there was a tendency toward assuming that an ingredient was safe unless information to the contrary was available. Clearly, there are other aspects of balance and objectivity that will become apparent as more information about a particular ingredient is known.
Question 10 was not answered because it was not possible to assess the backgrounds of those involved in the production of the resources or individual monographs within a resource. Information about advanced degrees was helpful, but usually did not indicate whether the individuals had the knowledge needed to conduct a safety evaluation or to evaluate the various types of concerns raised for an ingredient. It may be unrealistic to expect that individuals with in-depth knowledge and expertise in the safety of all dietary supplement ingredients, or even all botanicals, exist. While some experts in botanicals may be knowledgeable about historical and current use of botanicals, they may not know enough about the particular safety concerns raised by animal or in vitro studies to be considered an expert in this specific area.
For Question 11, the table indicates whether peer review was con-