The AHPA (American Herbal Products Association) has come out with improved recommendations on the guidelines for testing and labeling protein powders. This doesn’t mean shady companies will follow them, but it is interesting to note that the industry leaders are fighting to level the playing field.
As you all know, if a label says it has 30g of protein per serving, this doesn’t mean that the manufacture actually put 30g of raw protein powder in the product.
Currently, when protein powders are tested, they are tested for their nitrogen output. This output is then multiplied by a factor to “determine” the amount of protein in the product. This is called the Kjeldahl method. The FDA says this is how you measure protein. However, the FDA doesn’t define the sources of nitrogen that can be used in the calculation.
Taurine, creatine and glycine are three concentrated sources of nitrogen “nitrongenated compounds” that are cheap. When added to a protein powder, they cause the mixture to read higher than it otherwise would with only raw protein in the mixture. While Taurine and creatine have “benefits”, shady companies can hide behind those benefits with a sole purpose of very inexpensively boosting their products protein figures.
This means products that use Taurine, Creatine or Glycine in their protein powders should be reviewed with a careful eye.
For example, Gaspari Myofusion Elite adds a “amino blend” that includes taurine and glycine. VPX Syngex adds taurine and glycine. Muscletech Phase 8 adds taurine and glycine. Others include Musclepharm combat powder, BODYBUILDING.COM FOUNDATION SERIES 100% Whey, MuscleTech Nitro-Tech and Nature’s Best Isopure.
Here are the new guidelines:
Guidance on Labeling of Protein in Food and Dietary Supplements (adopted March 2014)
Marketers of conventional foods and dietary supplements are to adhere to the following guidelines in labeling the protein in any such product:
Notwithstanding the allowance in 21 CFR § 101.9(c)(7) to calculate the amount of protein to be declared in nutrition labeling of a food or dietary supplement on the basis of the factor of 6.25 times the nitrogen content of the food, the quantity of protein in a product is calculated to include only proteins that meet the following definition: “A chain of amino acids connected by peptide bonds.”
As further clarification, non-protein nitrogen-containing (NPN) substances are not counted toward total protein content on product labels. NPN substances are accounted for and subtracted from the total nitrogen content when protein is measured by nitrogen content.
Nothing in this guidance is intended to replace or conflict with any regulatory requirement established under any other subpart or section of 21 CFR Part 101 for labeling of food and dietary supplement products.