Is There Arsenic in Protein Powder?
The following is a response to a blog post published by EatThis.com on August 10, 2020. Throughout her post, the author, Kiersten Hickman, cited a study published by the Clean Label Project which found that many of today's popular protein powder supplements contain high levels of toxins, including heavy metals.
I have great respect for organizations that conduct legitimate testing of dietary supplements for purposes of public safety. Conversely, I have difficulty respecting organizations that seem to report test results on dietary supplements but do so in a misleading way, thereby causing the public to infer incorrect conclusions. Such is the case, in my opinion, with Clean Label Project (CLP).
According to the CLP website, the claims they make are based on “actual retail sampling and testing, we establish evidence-based benchmarks to identify America’s best products using data and science as opposed to marketing.”
Sounds great, right? Except it doesn’t always work out that way.
CLP Testing on Protein Powders
CLP conducted testing on protein powders and said they found “detectable” levels of arsenic in those protein powders.
Alright, but how much arsenic—and what type? After all, even apples contain arsenic. In fact, apart from arsenic, it’s common to find safe and trace amounts of some heavy metals and even lead in protein powders, water, air, soil, and a broad variety of other foods.
The question shouldn’t be, “does protein powder have arsenic?” but rather, “how much is present?” After all, the body can safely handle and metabolize small amounts of heavy metals. It does so safely and effectively every day. Problems occur when the levels of those heavy metals in protein powders and other foods are too high—when they exceed federal guidelines.
Furthermore, arsenic may be present as inorganic arsenic or organic arsenic in foods.
The fact is, as Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D. of the Natural Products Association (previous of the FDA) stated in an interview with NutraIngredients-USA.com, “Suggesting any sort of threat to human health as the Clean Label Project has done without determining the type of arsenic is irresponsible and misleading.”[i]
Let’s answer a common question – Is consuming protein powder safe?
Arsenic Levels in Protein Powders
So, if you’re wondering if the levels of arsenic found in the protein powders were unsafe, Jackie Bowen, the Executive Director of CLP, has admitted that some of the detection limits were below federal guidelines for safety.
Consequently, while simply stating that there were “detectable” arsenic levels in those protein powders is technically correct, it’s also misleading. Those detectable levels weren’t within dangerous ranges. In fact, they were generally within levels considered by the scientific community to be safe.
Other Misleading Reports Published by the CLP
This isn’t the first time that CLP has presented misleading reports about the presence of heavy metals.
The interview above, with NutraIngredients-USA.com, also reported that CLP conducted tests on various baby foods in 2017, reporting that “nearly 80% of baby formula samples tested positive for arsenic.”
However, according to NutraIngredients-USA.com, “the actual data showed that the median concentration of arsenic was 5.5 parts per billion (well below the EPA’s drinking water limit and the FDA’s infant cereal limit).”
NutraIngredients-USA.com also stated that “98 out of 102 substances (96%), the median concentration of contaminants across 499 samples of baby food was zero (below the level of detection).”
The fact is that most brands of protein powders are sold in the State of California, where heavy metal limits are even more stringent than federal limits. So, to be sold in California, these protein powders have to meet that state’s standards—which means that their heavy metal levels are below even federal standards! Given their business practices, I would not recommend counting on CLA’s certification process as the ultimate authority on product purity and safety.
For more information on how NutraScience Labs can help you manufacture high quality and delicious protein powder supplements, call 855-492-7388 to speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives or send us your request to receive a free protein powder manufacturing price quote.
[i] Masterson D. Clean Label Project goes into defense mode after business model questioned. 12-Aug-2020. Retrieved August 21, 2020 from https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2020/08/12/Clean-Label-Project-goes-into-defense-mode-after-business-model-questioned?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12-Aug-2020.