ADNAS Commits to Developing Authentication for PPE
To combat counterfeiting in the apparel industry—most notably within the luxury-goods segment—Applied DNA Sciences has been known for its technology that uses DNA-specific markers to identify authentic goods.
With the rise in demand for personal protective equipment since the onset of COVID-19, manufacturers from an array of industries, including apparel, have shifted focus to creating PPE such as N95 masks that fall under United States standards or the counterpart from China, KN95, both of which include a respirator to filter 95 percent of particles. As manufacturers rushed to create these goods, fears surrounding their authenticity as masks that qualify as filtering the particles have risen.
Using its DNA-based identifiers, the Stony Brook, N.Y., company is committed to developing a method that will allow manufacturers of masks and suppliers of the raw materials used to create these products prove their authenticity.
“Our company as a whole adheres to our promise, which is to keep life real and safe for all aspects of our business whether it’s textiles or pharmaceutical drugs. PPE is still an ongoing global issue,” said the company’s vice president of textile sales, MeiLin Wan. “It’s not clear if the products in the market are authentic. But they are the last defense against any virus.”
While the efficacy of the masks used for protection by frontline workers, essential staff and civilians are a major concern, a root cause of these issues could likely be in the raw materials used to make the products. For Wayne Buchen, vice president of strategic sales at ADNAS, this early stage in the supply chain is the most important place to examine the quality of materials.
“If I was an apparel manufacturer who converted to manufacturing PPE products, how do I know the imported materials are authentic and meet the 95 percent particulate threshold the N95 or KN95 mask needs without getting certificates and proof that all the materials came from the supplier?” he said. “When times are rough and people are just rushing to produce as many masks as possible, they don’t always test the fabrics to ensure they meet the standards.”
To aid manufacturers in their work to produce authentic masks, retailers who are selling the goods and consumers who are buying, ADNAS recently released a white paper titled “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—Guaranteed Authenticity?” authored by Wan, Buchen, Judy Murrah, ADNAS’ chief information officer, and James A. Hayward, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. The white paper outlines how threats from counterfeit PPE disrupt the supply chain and shows that this issue endangers those who use the products. Buchen has revealed that the company is developing a method of tagging to thwart the counterfeiting of PPE and promote the distribution of authentic goods. He estimates the solution should be available within six weeks.
“The safest route would be to tag the raw material. The raw material itself is what has to protect you from filtering out the 95 percent of particulates. If you buy a substandard material, it is not filtering out what you’re expecting. It’s not any different than a counterfeit Nike being put into a real box from the brand,” he said. “We will be in a position to protect the raw materials.”