Dietary Supplement Adulteration and 3rd Party Certification Testing

Q&A for Session #4
Sports Nutrition Symposium 3.0
Tuesday June 22nd, 2021 @ 12pm CST

Paul Klinger 400 x 400 Blackground

With as many as 1 in 10 supplements contaminated or adulterated with banned substances in sport, this discussion will focus on the understanding of the risk of banned substance adulteration in supplements to better educate your athletes.

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  • Are companies adding these steroids'/ stimulants purposefully? What is the benefit to that company, considering their contamination could get found out and sued?
    • Yes, there are companies that will do this. A lot of times they'll put the banned substance in early on so the athletes get the effects early on and perform great and other people compliment them and want to know what products they're using and it gets more people to by the product. This mostly happens with online products. Most companies don't do this though.
  • Do u check for DMAA when a supplement is sent to you for drug free certification?
    • DMAA was found even before it was listed on the banned subtsnace list. Have such expertise around this that they found banned substances that were similar and they looked for everything. Look for even things that are similar than a banned substance and remove those as well. Have their own list of substances that arent even on the banned substance list that they'll remove.
  • What are the primary reasons substances are banned?
    • Primarily giving athletes an unfair advantage but also the safety/health effects of it.
  • What are your thoughts on the Shelby Houlihan case? She tested positive for 5ng of a banned substance, possibly from meat. Do you think the amount would have been significant? Is it possible for her to have gotten it from meat?
    • It's definitely possible but can't really speak to the case because hasnt heard all the details behind it. Probably not very possible in this country but maybe in other countries where meat comes from high risk areas.
  • I think I'm still a LITTLE confused about the benefit of GMP. It feels like fluff. Is there any reassurance consumers should feel when seeing this listed?
    • It's very important. If a facility is GMP certified, we know that they have certain quality control standards in place. The chances of them having issues is minimal but it really tells us that we're dealing with a company that has high quality control standards. It doesnt translate directly to banned substances though.
  • If a brand's batch of products have been tested and certified, is it safe to assume that the next batch (despite not being tested) is free of banned substances?
    • No. You can minimize the risk though. You can't test every single batch of raw ingredients though, you test the final product. So you don't know if and when it will happen but the risk can be minimized. Can't assume that because one batch is okay, the others are as well.
  • Do you test for heavy metal contamination? If so, do you see much problem with this?
    • This program doesn't carry out heavy metal contamination but they require their brands carry this out. There are controls that are in place and they insure that reputable labs are doing it but they don't do the testing themselves.
  • With all of the research required for an athlete to make these decisions, is it even worth it? Is the risk/benefit worth it? Should they stick with overall diet instead?
    • Overall diet should always be prioritized over supplements. Proper nutrition and hydration should always come before supplementation and sports enhancers. If you attended yesterday's discussion on exercise induced muscle damage, Dr. Owens discussed a food first approach, followed by supplements and other enhancers. Especially in the case where athletes can be banned from their race because of the potential cross contamination, the risks outweigh the benefits.
  • Can you tell us more about your new informed protein cert, and how this will differ from sport & choice?
    • This new informed protein certification is the first program out of the banned substance screen. People make claims that there's a certain amount of protein but is that accurate? Protein is very expensive so companies will look to add cheap ingredients that are high in nitrogen and amino. How much nitrogen and how does this correlate to the amount of protein (combustion testing). They will also run free amino screens and will compare it to make sure it is protein that's in the product/you get what you are paying for.
  • Is there a difference between informed choice vs informed sport?
    • informed sport is more designed for elite athletes or military or people who are drug tested. Informed choice is a monitoring program and informed sport is every batch.
  • Any suggestions on how to educate a coaching staff that purchases their own protein supplement that's not third party tested?
    • If you have a coaching staff that has a product, it should be tested or certified.
  • Any comments on the Olympic track athlete who tested positive and has traced it to pork in a burrito?
    • Doesn't know the details of the case. Probably unlikely.
  • Opinions / experience with protein enhanced food products like Oikos Pro Yogurts, etc? How often do you see contaminated protein powders?
    • It has definitely been seen. Protein powder uses very low risk ingredients. Issues lie in the fact that protein is made in the same blenders as everything else so contamination can be seen with inappropriate cleaning. We don't see it often but it can happen.
  • You mentioned how banned for sport doesn't mean banned for sale. That's an important idea. Does this mean the regular consumer (not even athlete) should be wary of supplements as well to the point of looking up each batch they buy? Hearing that even something as simple as calcium was contaminated is worrying!
    • Yes. Some of these substances are used by individuals with cancer and any banned substances in these can feed a tumor. Depending on how much of this they use/how much, we can seriously harm someone. Important to lookup the batch itself.
  • Is it fair to say that if a product truly has 3rd party testing, they would have the company's cert stamped on the bottle? You see a lot of 3rd party testing claims on bottles, but who's doing the testing- I don't trust this. Am I correct with this thinking?
    • Always, even if the company has the logo, go to the website and check it. They have a great marketing team that scouts for this type of thing. They can't stop it but they can go after it after is happens so it's important to check the website. Also, not every brand checks every batch of the products but they all have lot numbers so check the lot number on the website.
  • If you are able to say -- Are there brands or specific products made by specific brands that you would strongly recommend people avoid?
    • High tech pharmaceuticals have been sanctioned by the FDA.
  • What's your take on those SARMs, are these exact substances in the purportedly supplements branded/labelled as such? or are they swapped for others such as steroids?
    • It wasn't in there as an ingredient but it was contaminated likely from raw materials supplier in china (something like calcium). SARMs has been seen in cross contamination every time they've seen it.
  • What is your feeling on US Pharmacopeia testing?
    • It's a good organization and they are very thorough. They don't do any banned substance testing yet though.
  • A little confused on the GMP seal and informed seals. Are these seals for the product not the batch? The consumer would still need to lookup the batch itself- ie the batch number on the bottle before purchasing? Not all batches are tested? Thank you!
    • Yes. Some of these substances are used by individuals with cancer and any banned substances in these can feed a tumor. Depending on how much of this they use/how much, we can seriously harm someone. Important to lookup the batch itself. Not every program tests every batch. If you have drug tested athletes it is crucial to look up each batch.
  • Can you comment on Consumer Lab testing and how reliable that is?
    • Hasn't heard anything about it that is isnt accurate but they made hundred of thousands of batches a year so it's a spot check.
  • Thoughts on choosing supplements with nutrition facts label vs. supplement facts label?
    • Nutrition fact labels are not required within sports typically. A lot of times the products are made in the same facilities as supplements so they are subject to the same risks as a supplement would be.