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Protein Powder Makers May be Spiking Their Products with Inferior Ingredients

Jul 28, 2014

In an effort to cut manufacturing costs, some protein powder companies are adding less expensive ingredients that can trick a protein-content test into registering a higher protein concentration that the product actually has.

The practice – called nitrogen spiking or amino acid spiking – relies on a test that measures nitrogen released as ammonia as a way to determine protein. 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 feels the industry needs a “defined standard” of what substances should be included in measuring nitrogen content.

Amino acid spiking increases a product’s nitrogen content and consumers do not receive a full complement of genuine, high-quality, natural protein they are paying for. While isolated amino acids are technically not “protein,” they contribute to the total protein amount.

Companies suspected of amino acid spiking include Body Fortress, ProSupps. MusclePharm Arnold Series, 4 Dimension Nutrition, Mutant Nutrition, Gaspari Nutrition, Giant Sports Nutrition, Infinite LabsL, and Best Sports Nutrition. The amino acids used in spiking include arginine, creatine, glycine, and taurine. While amino acids do offer benefits in the products, they should not be counted in the protein content.

The FDA regulates ingredients in dietary supplements, though they fall under different regulations than those covering conventional foods and drug products. The FDA takes action against adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement products after they reach the market. The agency 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.

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