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The label legislation that some supplement companies would rather you did not know about!
I want to tell you exactly how this new EU law works and what it should mean for you IF supplement companies comply with the law. To be clear from the start I’m referring to blends that make up protein supplements and not those used in weight gainers/all-in-ones because they deliver a far more comprehensive spectrum of ingredients.
First and foremost what is a proprietary blend?
A proprietary blend is a name given to various ingredients making up for example a protein blend or a pre-workout amino acid blend. A protein powder time release blend might look something like this:
Ingredients: Super 6 Multi Stage Release Protein Blend (whey protein, soy protein, rice protein, egg white, micellar casein, hydrolysed whey protein)
This blend might sound pretty good but you have little idea as to what quantity each of the six proteins delivers within the blend. However there was simply no way of really knowing what the ACTUAL quantities were of each protein included. In this example though you will notice that the last 3 ingredients happen to be the most expensive. Sometimes using ingredients in small amounts such as hydrolysed whey makes sense makes it tastes bitter, but micellar casein does not and science dictates that it should be higher up the list. (to understand why read my article on Fast and Slow proteins). So the blend could be just a cheap blend of whey, soy and rice with a sprinkling of the more expensive higher quality proteins.
Hopefully, you are getting a better idea of why proprietary blends are popular with some supplement companies, but it’s not just supplement companies that do this. Various food companies also employ such techniques to dress up otherwise poor recipes. Now I would be hypocritical if I said that Reflex have never used proprietary blends. We have but in a way to protect our formulae from competitors keen to copy our products (a different blog!). There are other companies that also use proprietary blends I know of that use the same methodology as us to protect their formulas too, and I know for a fact some were hiding very good formulas so it’s not all doom and gloom! In all cases we’ve been very transparent and actually given the ratios of proteins in products like Peptide Fusion, a 33:33:33 blend of Micellar Casein, Whey and Egg. However new EU law makes these differences more apparent. So, from our perspective, it’s a big step in the right direction.
I’ll now give an example of how the law works.
As an example I’ll show you two products with different descriptions and ingredients that a supplement company might use. They are both time release protein blends.
Name or product: Mega Time Release Protein
Product Description on front of tub: High Quality Time Release Protein.
Ingredients : Time Release Protein Blend 95% (Whey Protein [MILK], Soy Protein [SOY], Micellar Casein [MILK]), cocoa powder, flavouring, artificial sweetener (sucralose).
In the example above, because the product description on the front of the tub does not mention the fact that the protein blend contains whey, soy or micellar casein it does not need to be listed by actual quantity/percentage. It only needs to state how much the blend represents of the actual product, in this case 95%. The actual content is 48% Whey, 47% Soy and 5% Micellar Casein. It stands to reason that the supplement company probably does not want you to know the quantity of Soy used because it’s a cheap protein and they obviously don’t want you to know that there is such a small of amount of micellar casein.
Name or product: Mega Time Release Protein
Product Description on tub: High Quality Time Release Protein with Whey, Egg and Micellar Casein
Ingredients : Time Release Protein Blend 95% (Whey Protein [MILK] (33%), Egg White Protein [EGG] (33%), Micellar Casein [MILK] (33%)), cocoa powder, flavouring, artificial sweetener (sucralose).
In this case we know exactly what we are getting, a high quality blend of whey, egg and micellar casein in equal proportions and because specific reference is being made to these ingredients, their specific contribution to the formulation legally now has to be made. You will also notice that there are highlighted parts of the listing like [MILK], [SOY], [EGG]. These are listed to highlight allergens for consumers with such allergies and once again are required by law. So the next time you go and buy a premium protein that talks about its ingredients in any detail by law that product should list in quantity the amount of each protein. This law does not apply in the USA, however ANY product being sold within the EU must comply wherever it comes from. This EU law has been brought in to give the consumer the transparency they deserve. It also gives Reflex Nutrition the ability to really highlight just how great our formula are compared to so many of our competitors.
So does this really spell the end of proprietary blends? It does if a supplement company wants to highlight the use of quality ingredients, there is no way of circumventing this law. From my own personal perspective it’s a very good move from the EU and its one of the few laws that benefits consumers who buy supplements. All too often new EU laws have meant that the consumers is worse off, this time it’s not, this time the law is on your side.
The single best piece of advice I can give to anyone choosing a premium protein powder is to check the ingredient label and look for the high quality proteins, if they are not the main ingredients and listed by quantity move on until you find a brand that lists the protein sources you are looking for.