The July 2010 issue of Consumer Reports made headlines by announcing that Muscle Milk and EAS Myoplex protein supplements contained high levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium. Consumer Reports (CR) hired an independent laboratory to test 15 brands of protein supplements. The “Big 3” that were highlighted as the worst offenders were:
- Muscle Milk chocolate powder (high cadmium and high lead)
- Muscle Milk Vanilla Cream (high cadmium)
- EAS Myoplex liquid shake, original, dark chocolate (high arsenic and high lead)
This was very interesting because of EAS is owned by Abbott Labs – a pharmaceutical company! Many people say supplements should be “regulated” like drugs. Abbott Labs has very high quality control over its prescription drugs and have no reason to believe that they would do any less in their dietary supplements. So, mentioning EAS was a surprise to me to say the least!
But, more to the point, did the protein supplements tested by CR really contain these toxic substances? I was curious so I called CytoSport, the maker of Muscle Milk, to see what they had to say.
My Call to CytoSport
When I called CytoSport they told me that the FDA tested Muscle Milk. They did not find high levels of lead, cadmium or arsenic. Likewise, NSF International did not did corroborate the results of Consumer Reports either. I was also told that CR has not told CytoSport the name of the independent laboratory that found the high levels.
Shouldn't EAS and CytoSport be able to face their accusers?
CytoSport has a press release on their website in response to the CR article. They do make some good points so its worth looking at.
EAS has also responded to the Consumer Reports article with its own press release
So where does this leave us?
The rule of thumb when it comes to science is that one study alone does not mean very much. I personally would like to see the CR results reproduced a few more times before I give it credence. Also, the levels of toxins that consumer reports detected were based on using 3 servings a day. So, those using less than 3 servings a day, are getting less (if the contaminants are really present…). A serving of Muscle Milk is 2 scoops (300 calories). At 3 servings a day, that’s 6 scoops – and 900 calories!
Now, I would not be surprised by a bodybuilder using this amount but I would be surprised by an average person who was. Most people who use this amount of calories without enough exercise will just get fat!
I've been reading Consumer Reports for years. I have an open mind and am very much looking forward to seeing other independent laboratories test protein supplements. Yes, there are problems with the way some products are made and it is also true errors can be made in testing. While it is virtually impossible to remove all traces of these toxins from the food supply (small amounts are in food too!) lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury have no place in dietary supplements.
So, if these toxins are really present, I know these very well known companies will respond and when they do, it will be a positive step to making the dietary supplement industry that much better.
What do you think?