Watch Your Protein
Protein is by far the most popular ingredient in sports nutrition products, and for good reasons! It provides excellent benefits, ranging from helping to grow or maintain muscle mass to contributing to the maintenance of normal bones. Protein is ideal to complement your exercise regime and nutritious diet.
While the vast majority of these products are safe to use it is important to keep an eye out to avoid being misled. Instead of providing high-quality protein-packed drinks, bars or powders that do what they say on the label, a handful of businesses across Europe (and beyond) are diluting the amount of protein in their products – and neglecting to tell you.
We call this ‘Protein spiking’, but it is also known as ‘nitrogen spiking’ or ‘protein adulteration’– a method that allows unscrupulous companies to put in less protein than listed on the product label and avoid being caught.
The motivation is clear: since protein is an expensive ingredient, unethical companies reduce the amount of protein in a product to save money and to make bigger profits.
Protein spiking is an emerging issue in Europe, but it has already prompted several class action lawsuits in the USA.
The responsible section of the sports nutrition industry is working to address this problem, but in the meantime, you do not have to worry: there are a number of steps that you can take to ensure you are buying the best products.
For now, there are two primary things you can do when buying a product to ensure it’s not ‘spiked’:
Look for ESSNA’s kitemark on your product. If your product carries this label, it’s telling you it was made by an ESSNA member. ESSNA members sign up to its strict Code of Conduct which require that they abide by all industry regulations – so, essentially, you are being made a promise by that company that its products follow the letter of the law that’s in place to protect you, and that this product does not have ‘fake’ protein.
For now, there are three primary things you can do when buying a product to ensure it’s not ‘spiked’:
- You can look for ESSNA’s kitemark on your product. If your product carries this label, it’s telling you it was made by an ESSNA member. ESSNA members sign up to its strict Code of Conduct which requires that they abide by all industry regulations – so, essentially, you are being made a promise by that company that its products follow the letter of the law that’s in place to protect you, which can give you an extra layer of reassurance.
- Look out for the below phrase on the back of your product, on or around the nutritional label: “Calculated protein, of which, [protein source(s) and respective amount, xg per 100g/100ml and xg per portion]” in close proximity but not within the nutrition declaration”. The industry uses this to alert consumers to how much of the protein declared on the table comes from the source of protein you are looking for. In simple terms, the product is ensuring you, the consumer, aren’t being misinformed, and most importantly, this product is less likely to have ‘fake’ protein.
- You can also check if your product is made by an ESSNA member on our website – check our list of members here
For more information, check out our guide!