Exposing the Dark Side of The Supplement Industry
Last year the global dietary supplement market size was 123.28 billion USD and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% . This amount of money attracts plenty of scammers who will spread misinformation in order to hype questionable products and entice people with deceptive marketing schemes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review supplements for safety and efficacy before they hit the market. This means that the bottles and capsules that line the aisles of supplement stores may not contain what they say they do.
Approximately 14 mega-corporations own over 100 of the most popular supplement brands. These mega-corporations will even own competing brands. You’d be surprised at who owns some of the biggest supplement brands. Recently, a company that owned some very well-known supplement brands was sold to Nestle.
Yes, the chocolate company.
Optimum Nutrition (ON), BSN, Isopure, Nutramino, ABB, thinkThin, Amazing Grass, Body & Fit and SlimFast; what do all these brands have in common? They’re all owned by Glanbia, a massive publicly traded corporation . As I’m sure you’re well aware, the main focus of any publicly traded company is stock price and the bottom line.
Here’s how it works. The marketing team of a mega-corporation sees what supplements have the highest consumer demand. They do this by researching search words on Google, Amazon, and Facebook. After learning what products consumers want, they make the cheapest product possible and send it to market.
These companies are essentially marketing firms. They do not research clinical dosages, synergy between ingredients or how the product could benefit athletes. Their focus is cost of goods and consumer demand. What does this mean for the consumer? Low quality goods and dishonest label claims. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it can, and it will.
A lot of these mega-corporations are knowingly selling products that don’t even contain what the label says.
In this article I am going to focus on protein spiking, but it doesn’t stop with protein. There are issues that abound with everything from the most popular test booster to the claims on fat burners.
Protein spiking is when non-protein ingredients are added to a protein powder to cut costs and increase profit margin. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for “protein spiking”. You’ll find many companies that are involved in protein spiking class action lawsuits. Here is a list of companies that are involved in class action lawsuits for allegedly spiked their protein powders:
- Body Fortress
- Inner Amour
- Giant Sports
- Designer Protein
Let me digress to make something clear. Ninety-nine percent of the protein powders that you buy on a retail shelf are not made by companies that have their own manufacturing facilities. They are made by third party supplement manufacturers. In the United States, there are a bunch of companies that manufacture supplements. If you go to their websites, you’ll see that they are all GMP (good manufacturing practices) compliant. Whey protein is considered a dietary supplement by the FDA, and therefore it must be labeled as such. Any supplement manufacturer must have master manufacturing records (MMR) and batch production records (BPR). These tell you exactly what was added to the powder, by whom, and how much. What does this all mean? The companies spiking their protein powders are made by manufacturing facilities that are knowingly doing this.
So, what can you do as a consumer?
First, check the label.
If the protein powder has a Nutrition Facts panel and not a Supplement Facts panel like the one above(from our product, Black Ox), then do not buy it. When companies label their protein powders with a nutrition fact panel it is categorized as a food, which bypasses the FDA supplement regulations. Companies only do this so they can increase their profits by not having to perform tests to verify label claims. Only buy protein powders that have a supplement facts panel.
Second, do your research. Look for companies that have a proven track record. The best companies will even provide certificates of analysis (COA) to show that what is in the product matches what is on the label.
Ultimately, it is up to you as the consumer to educate yourself and support legitimate companies that are trying to make an honest buck. If a company has been caught spiking their protein, don’t support them.
Next week we are going to focus on test boosters, and the problems with the current industry accepted standards. This will be a weekly series where I will be educating you on what to look for when purchasing supplements, and how main stream companies are spreading misinformation to entice people with crooked marketing schemes.
Spreading Truth and Strength,
Trevor Kouritzin, Chemical Engineer
‘The Canadian Chemist’, Enhanced Labs