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Contamination of Organic Health Food Protein Supplements


The non-profit Clean Label Project based in Denver recently released results of a 2018 study on contamination of protein powders used as nutritional supplements by body builders. A total of 134 brands were tested and 40 percent were found to have detectable levels of heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

The study examined both generic and certified organic supplements. It was found that the organic products were twice as likely to reveal lead contamination as generic protein powders. In addition, 75 percent of the organic powders assayed had measurable levels of lead values approximately twice those recorded in conventional protein powders. Other heavy metals including mercury, cadmium and arsenic were present in the organic products at levels above established safety guidelines.

An important comparison was that egg-derived protein supplements were devoid of either heavy metal or BPA, an endocrine disrupter. This is consistent with the reality that even if feed ingredients fed to hens contain heavy metals in low quantities, there is limited transfer to eggs.

The study clearly demonstrates a contention expressed previously by EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS that the USDA Certified Organic Seal only indicates conformity to a set of regulations and has no bearing on either food safety or microbial status.

If the National Organic Program wishes to advance the image of their Seal, it will be necessary to institute a structured program of assays to ensure compliance. A review of paperwork and records, especially in the case of imported ingredients and products is totally inadequate. Although field audits of farms are performed, a valid program of certification requires laboratory confirmation. The major distributor of a nationally branded specialty egg conducts in the region of 50,000 individual assays annually to confirm adherence to standards of quality, purity and freedom from pathogens.