Manufacturers of protein powders, popular sports and body building supplements, have been accused scamming consumers through “protein spiking” to make the product show a higher protein concentration than it actually has.
In the April 2014 issue of Natural Products Insider, dietary supplement scientist Gene Bruno writes that some companies add amino acids and other cheaper non-protein ingredients to increase the nitrogen content of their protein powders in tests to determine protein percentage. Consumers are paying for a lesser-quality product and not receiving 100 percent real protein. “Although amino acids are the building blocks of protein, they do not have the same beneficial effects of whole protein,” Bruno’s report notes.According to the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for supplements allow protein to be calculated as a factor of nitrogen content, but the sources of nitrogen do not have to be included. The AHPA has called on the industry to create a “defined standard” of what substances should be included in measuring nitrogen content.
Consumers have raised concerns about protein powder products including Body Fortress, ProSupps, MusclePharm Arnold series, 4 Dimension Nutrition, Mutant Nutrition, Gaspari Nutrition, Giant Sports Nutrition, Infinite Labs, and Beast Sports Nutrition. These products contain such ingredients as glycine, creatine, and taurine, which may have be beneficial in the product’s quality overall but should not be counted as protein grams, according to General Nutrition Centers (GNC).
Dietary supplements fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), a different set of regulations than those that cover conventional food and drug products. The FDA takes action against products deemed “adulterated or misbranded” after they reach the market but has no regulatory power before a product is marketed. The FDA has taken action against manufacturers whose supplements contain hidden drug ingredients or do not contain the listed type and amount of an ingredient. Adulterated or misbranded supplements can be dangerous to health, the FDA warns.