It seems that almost every single day now, the news is filled with stories about how manufacturers are lying to consumers about their products–the same products we buy and trust to safely feed or supplement our family and children. One industry standard that helps keep manufacturers honest is cGMP, which stands for current Good Manufacturing Practice. In this newsletter, you’re going to read about a shocking, mind-blowing example connected to the Natural News Forensic Food Lab as to why it matters more than you can imagine. And despite its name, cGMP is not just about manufacturing. When it comes to supplements, cGMP applies to everything in the process–up and down the line. It is a set of guidelines that provides a system of processes, procedures, and documentation to ensure that the finished product has the identity, strength, composition, quality, and purity that it claims. And, it is important for you to understand cGMP so you can know whether or not you can trust the supplements you buy.
Manufacturers, of course, are bound by it. Surprisingly, companies that just store and/or distribute supplements are also legally required to comply with GMP regulations–with the exception of brick and mortar retailers. But online retailers such as Baseline Nutritionals are bound by it. Companies that specialize in supplying raw ingredients for supplements likewise have to follow a version of GMP, as do the testing labs that verify the purity and content of the supplements you consume. It’s the law, we’re all required to follow cGMP. But that doesn’t mean that everyone does. While most (but not all) manufacturers do and most testing labs do, it turns out that many ingredient suppliers do not (although they are required to follow Food GMP requirements), and very few retailers do. Why not?
Primarily because running a GMP compliant supplement operation is very expensive and time consuming. Following GMP really requires a full time Quality Assurance person. In fact, the FDA actually calculated the costs involved. The numbers they came up with are a bit shocking.
Small Companies (Less than 20 employees with annual revenue under $1M)
- Set up Costs = $26,000
- Annual Costs = $46,000
Medium Companies (20 – 500 employees with annual revenue of $5M – $10M)
- Set up Costs = $20,000
- Annual Costs = $184,000
When a company takes on that much cost to become compliant, it can’t just eat it. They have to pass it on to their customers, which means higher prices, which means you’ll be less competitive than those who aren’t GMP compliant. And that’s amplified up and down the chain. For example, in complying with GMP, Baseline Nutritionals is required to work only with GMP manufacturers, warehousing facilities, fulfillment houses, and testing laboratories–all of which cost more than their non-compliant counterparts, which means that each and every one of those additional costs gets added to the final retail cost.
Maintaining compliance is also a major pain in the butt. Many companies have gone out of business because they could not afford the extra time it takes or the extra cost to become compliant. Other companies have just ignored it and hope the FDA doesn’t come calling. Among other things, it requires regular onsite auditing of any company we work with to make sure they are GMP compliant. And when I say auditing, I’m not talking about simply visiting and saying hi. I’m talking about anywhere from a half day to a day-and-a-half, inch-by-inch walkthrough while working your way through a staggeringly detailed check list. To give you just one idea, when auditing a manufacturing operation, we need to make sure that no tree branches are growing too close to a facility as that could be an access point for squirrels and rats into the facility. And that’s just one of a number of items we have to check for even before we actually enter the facility. Trust me; it’s extensive, time consuming, costly, and it’s a pain.
So is it worth it?
What GMP Does NOT Cover
And the answer is a qualified, yes. But before we go into GMP in more detail and why it’s worth it, let’s cover some of the things that it doesn’t do.
- It doesn’t regulate effectiveness. Whether a formula works or not is not regulated by GMP. In fact, if no claims are made, effectiveness is not regulated by anyone. The bottom line is that it’s quite possible–in fact, quite common–to end up buying a cGMP compliant supplement that, for all practical purposes, does nothing and has zero benefits.
- It does not differentiate between synthetic and natural ingredients or organic and conventionally grown.
- It doesn’t control for potency of herbs. You can put either $5 a pound commercially grown ginseng in a formula or a $400 a pound wild crafted ginseng in the same formula. They both appear as ginseng on the label. Which do you think actually produces results? Which do you think most companies use?
- It doesn’t control where herbs are grown or where nutraceuticals are manufactured. Did that ingredient come the U.S. or from China? GMP doesn’t care.
- It doesn’t control the use of pixie dust. As long as no false promises are made on the label, nothing in GMP covers the use of minute amounts of an ingredient for the simple purpose of looking good on a label, even though it may have zero efficacy in the body at that level.
- It doesn’t regulate stupidity in formulation. For example, there’s nothing to stop a company from selling you a GMP compliant intestinal health formula that contains both goldenseal and probiotics because textbooks say that both are beneficial to intestinal health–even though goldenseal actually kills bacteria, including the probiotics in the same formula.
For these issues, you have to rely on the formulator and manufacturer to come through for you. Keep in mind that in the world of supplements, you often get what you pay for. If a supplement is selling at a bargain price, there’s usually a reason. Ingredients sourced from China usually cost a fraction of what those same ingredients cost if sourced in the U.S. Are ingredients from China automatically bad? Not at all. There are some very good, very conscientious companies in China, but there are also many that are not. At some point in time, when the government of the People’s Republic of China decides that the China “brand” is more important than exporting at any cost, things will change. Think Japan. In the 50’s and 60’s; they were known for cheap transistor radios and tiny cars. Now they are known for high end electronics, luxury cars, and top of the line nutraceuticals. Likewise Korea has gone from low end to high end. Most of the top rated appliances are now made in Korea. Make no mistake, China is already following in their footsteps–but for now, when it comes to herbs and nutraceuticals, buying from China is problematic. Unless you have boots on the ground and are regularly working directly with the Chinese companies and farmers involved in producing your raw ingredients for the casual supplement user, you don’t know what you’re getting. Again, it’s a shame to tarnish the good Chinese companies, but that lack of regulation in China is why Baseline Nutritionals avoids buying ingredients from China as much as possible. (Note: some ingredients such as many of the herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine are impossible to get anywhere else now. In those cases, we vet the sources as much as possible and make sure that everything is tested to the nth degree before we use it in any formulation.)
The bottom line is that GMP doesn’t cover any of this. The FDA doesn’t cover any of this. You have to trust the company you buy from to cover it for you. It’s like buying champagne. When you buy Andre at $5 a bottle, you know you’re not going to get Cristal, which retails for $374 a bottle. They’re not the same. The bottom line is that cGMP aside, when it comes to supplements, you need to find a company you trust; then buy as much as you can from them.
Which brings us to the questions at hand: if GMP doesn’t guarantee us any of this, what value is it? What does it cover?
What GMP Does Cover
According to the FDA’s own website, current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) require that proper controls be in place for dietary supplements so that they are processed in a consistent manner, and meet quality standards.1 “Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and Interim Final Rule (IFR) Facts.” June 22, 2007 FDA. Accessed 29 Mar 2014. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/CGMP/ucm110858.htm#fr The CGMPs apply to all domestic and foreign companies that manufacture, package, label, or hold dietary supplements, including those involved with the activities of testing, quality control, packaging, and labeling (an important consideration as we will see later), and distributing them in the U.S (i.e. selling them). The requirements include provisions related to the design and construction of physical plants that facilitate:
- Proper manufacturing operations
- Quality control procedures
- Testing final product or incoming and in-process materials
- Handling and recording consumer complaints
- Maintaining records
Although the requirements are not as rigorous as found in the pharmaceutical industry, much of the wording and intent is the same. Specifically, anybody involved in manufacturing and distributing dietary supplements is required to keep detailed records documenting all standard operating procedures (SOPs) and they must have a formal process for reviewing and updating SOPs. In addition, training records for all employees must be kept current and a master manufacturing record for all formulas must be maintained. That said, there are differences. For example, drugs have to be FDA approved before marketing, whereas dietary supplements do not. Another important difference is that drug testing must be done for all active components in a pharmaceutical product, but there are exceptions available for dietary supplements. Also, equipment and analytical methods have to be fully validated for drug products, but only qualified for supplements.
Regardless, cGMP compliance requires extensive record keeping and requires access to these records by the FDA on demand. Identity testing must be performed on every dietary ingredient used in each and every batch of a formulation. This can be performed by the manufacturer or by the ingredient supplier, but the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for verifying the reliability of the supplier. Note: although ingredient suppliers are exempted from the regulation–putting the burden for compliance on the manufacturers–most manufacturers require their raw material suppliers to meet these regulations or they won’t do business with them. And as mentioned earlier, the raw dietary ingredient suppliers are still subject to Food GMP regulations.
cGMP Compliance for Retailers
GMP compliance for online retailers is different and only slightly less complex. In fact, it is largely designed to govern the interface between the manufacturing process and the retailing process. For example, GMP requires that companies like Baseline Nutritionals keep a Master Formula record for every product they create and sell. This record contains complete details as to exactly what the specifications are for every ingredient that goes into the formula, not to mention precise instructions as to exactly how the formula is to be packed and any scoops or droppers required.
That master record is kept on file at the manufacturer. When a purchase order is made, the manufacturer is required to verify that they have precisely matched it before completing the order and forwarding it to product fulfillment. But it doesn’t end there, GMP requires that before any of those formulas are released to the public, the sales group must also verify that the formula is in full compliance with the master formula record. In addition, label verification is required for every product, every batch, to make sure that what’s in the bottle matches what’s on the label–something, that as you will soon see, is not necessarily automatic.
In addition, we’re required to keep multiple samples of every batch of every formula in storage in case any retesting of those batches is required. It may not sound like much, but multiple samples, of multiple batches, of multiple products adds up over the years and requires a lot of storage space, which costs money.
And finally, as mentioned earlier, GMP requires that we regularly audit all manufacturing operations on a regular basis with live, onsite inspections. This not only increases cost for the online retailer that is in compliance and regularly audits all its manufacturing operations, but think what it means for the manufacturing operations. These added costs, of course, all end up getting passed on to customers. In other words, cGMP compliance costs money, and we’re not done yet.
GMP Compliance for Testing Labs
Natural News stated that they were the only company in the industry that tests every product. In fact, that is wildly and unconscionably untrue. If you’re GMP compliant, testing takes place at every level of the process and for multiple things such as the ingredients inside the canister conforming to the label…not just heavy metals. Many companies test for heavy metals. Baseline Nutritionals tests every batch of every product for heavy metals, again along with a number of other things as required by cGMP.
As already mentioned, before manufacturing a product, every ingredient is tested to make sure it’s what it’s supposed to be, not something merely similar, or something that merely looks like what you want. For example, if you’re putting Panax ginseng in a product, you have to run it through testing to make sure the ingredient supplier hasn’t sent you Siberian ginseng by mistake. They are very different plants (Siberian ginseng isn’t actually even ginseng; it’s Eleutherococcus), with very different bioactives. Siberian ginseng is also much cheaper, and ingredient suppliers sometimes do “accidentally” confuse the two. The bottom line is that if you want to verify that you’re getting what your formula calls for, you have to test each ingredient as it comes in. This is a GMP requirement. If you’re not GMP compliant, you don’t do it, and you save money. Then again, your final formula may not be what you think it is and may not match what’s on the label.
In addition, both bio-friendly ingredients and final products need to be tested for micros. That is, they need to be tested for bacterial contamination such as E. coli and salmonella. This is crucial, when you’re dealing with any ingredients that were once alive or grown–no matter how organic the source. And again, it’s a GMP requirement.
After a product has been manufactured, but before you sell it to the public, it’s a good idea to test it with an ISO accredited, GMP compliant, third party, independent laboratory for heavy metal contamination. (Incidentally, this is something that Baseline Nutritionals does as a matter of course with every batch of every product we sell. Yes, it costs more to send products out for testing to certified testing labs, but I insist that Baseline take its mission statement–When Compromise Is Not an Option–very seriously. I don’t make my formulations for the casual supplement user, but for those who insist on using the best. And we are not alone. There are other companies that are similarly obsessive.) And when it comes to testing laboratories, there are several levels of qualification for determining which lab to use. In descending order, they are:
- ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited2 http://www.a2la.org/requirements/req17025.pdf (International Organization for Standardization). Accreditation is actually done on a test by test basis. In other words, a lab can be accredited to run tests on only a handful of heavy metals, or on the whole gamut. Testing for protein, for example, requires a separate accreditation.
- cGMP compliant3 http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=f3daa4e9ddbdf07acd8dae88535d39f1&node=21:188.8.131.52.11.10&rgn=div6
- GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) compliant
- Having some equipment and doing your own thing
At Baseline Nutritionals, we run every batch of every product through testing with labs that are ISO compliant or accredited for the particular nutrient or contaminant that we’re looking for. That’s the best you can do. Obviously, the least desirable is using labs that are not compliant and have no accreditation. If a lab does not yet have their ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Accreditation then we send out a qualification questionnaire. Click here to see the screening questions used to sort through testing laboratories to make sure that they are both qualified and up to the task at hand.
Bottom Line: Does GMP Matter?
So, we now know that GMP makes products more expensive, is a pain in the butt to implement and enforce, and has huge gaps that negate much of its value. But we’re still left with the bottom line question: Does it matter? Is it worth it?
I’m going to give you a real life example–then let you make up your own mind. But before we turn to the example, let’s take note of what Andrew C. von Eschenbach, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, said about the new GMP rules for dietary supplements in June of 2007:4 http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/DietarySupplements/default.htm “This rule helps to ensure the quality of dietary supplements so that consumers can be confident that the products they purchase contain what is on the label.” And now the example.
Last year, Natural News purchased some testing equipment which they used to establish the Natural News Forensic Food Lab. And since that time, they have been analyzing a number of companies’ products for purity and contamination. In effect, they set themselves up as the voice of higher moral authority in the alternative health community and pretty much stated so in those words. Along the way, they have taken a position that vegan rice protein contains too many heavy metals and that the organic whey they offer through the Natural News marketplace is a cleaner, better alternative…using test results from their own Forensic Food Lab, which as far as we can determine is non-compliant and non-accredited, to back up their claims.
Note: before I go any further, let me clearly state that I like Mike Adams, the Founder and Director of Natural News. I’ve known him for years and consider him a friend. I also think that Natural News does some great work, even if they seem to have a lot more belief in conspiracy theories than I think appropriate. What follows, then, is not personal. It’s just that I think it’s crucial that if you set yourself up as judge, jury, and executioner in an industry–as the Judge Dredd of alternative health, if you will–you have to walk the talk. You must be beyond reproach if you choose to pass judgment on other companies and their products. Or as the Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
Now back to our example in which Natural News chose to question the purity of rice protein products and promoted the purity of their whey product instead.
A few days ago, the Baseline of Health Foundation was sent copies of lab reports on the Natural News whey protein powder that had been run by two independent, third party ISO accredited laboratories (Genysis Nutritional Labs5 http://gnlabs.net/ and Covance6 http://www.covance.com/
), using the Kjeldahl testing method for protein. We were stunned by what we saw.
The whey product was definitely heavy metal clean as Mike stated, but that wasn’t the shocking result. That result concerned the protein levels in the formula. Unfortunately, although both labs are huge and notably accredited (Covance alone has over 12,000 employees and has been involved in the development of one-third of all prescription medicines in the market today), neither was specifically ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited for protein testing. Nevertheless, we were so stunned by what we saw that we obtained a sample of the whey protein for ourselves (same lot number) and sent it off to two actual ISO/IEC 17025:2005 protein testing accredited laboratories (Medallion Labs7 http://medallionlabs.com/) and Warren Analytical Laboratory 8http://warrenlab.com/, using an alternative testing method (Dumas9 Thompson M1, Owen L, Wilkinson K, Wood R, Damant A. “A comparison of the Kjeldahl and Dumas methods for the determination of protein in foods, using data from a proficiency testing scheme.” Analyst. 2002 Dec;127(12):1666-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12537377 ), which normally tests slightly higher than Kjeldahl, to verify the results.
What were those results?
The two labs using the Kjeldahl test found only 5 g of protein per serving. The Dumas test from Medallion showed slightly more at 5.03 g per serving (20.1% x 25 g), whereas the test from Warren found slightly less at 4.75 g. Bottom line: all results were a long way from the 21 g10http://store.naturalnews.com/assets/images/Vanillalabela.jpg on the label. (Check out the results for yourself.) We’re talking about a difference of 400% between what the label says and what’s actually in the canister, and it’s insanely low for a product promoting itself as a protein supplement. In fact, I’ve never heard of a whey protein product having so little protein before. For perspective, it’s less protein than a glass of milk, which comes in at around 8 g. Milk, then, has 60% more protein than the whey Natural News endorses. Somehow in the process of “concentrating” the protein while making the whey, it actually lost 40% of the protein that was already there. Keep in mind that a cup of Greek Yogurt contains about 300% more protein. And a scoop of most rice protein products contain about 25 g, which would be about 500% more protein per serving.
What does this mean?
It means that:
- Neither the manufacturer of the whey, Natural News which sells it, or the Natural News Forensic Food Lab are cGMP compliant. No matter what may be claimed, they couldn’t be, or this would have been noticed at every step of the process. Label validation is part of the process.
- It also means that just because you buy a piece of testing equipment and give it a name (Natural News Forensic Food Lab, in this case) doesn’t mean that your lab is GMP compliant. And this means that your results can be off by, as we now know, as much as 400%.
- And finally, it means that the Natural News whey, has an even bigger anomaly. The label currently lists protein at 21 g, fat at .4 g, and carbohydrates, as 1.98 g. But given that the protein content actually tests out at only 5 g per serving, we now have over 16 g of unaccounted for “what”?????
Incidentally, it also means that the Natural News whey isn’t quite as clean as they claimed even if their non GMP testing on heavy metals was accurate. To compare equivalent amounts of protein, you would have to multiply their testing results fivefold. And keeping in mind that the Natural News report stated that even though the level of heavy metals in rice protein products might be safe at one scoop, many people such as athletes have up to six scoops a day,11 http://www.naturalnews.com/043978_heavy_metals_dietary_supplements_food_science.html and that would present a problem. Well, what we’ve now learned is that with the Natural News whey you’d have to consume 30 scoops a day, which presents its own set of problems, assuming you could actually eat that many scoops in a day.
In his Feb 8th newsletter on Vegan Protein,12 Mike Adams. “Vegan protein heavy metals results republished by Natural News in new, improved charts.” February 08, 2014. Natural News (Accessed 8 April 2014.) http://www.naturalnews.com/043838_rice_protein_heavy_metals_data_charts.html Mike Adams says, “Once again, we are pioneering the new course for the future of the natural products industry, setting new standards for product safety and total transparency with customers…My philosophy is that I won’t sell anything that I wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to eat for myself. If I don’t feel right about a product, we don’t carry it, period. I just wish everybody in the industry had the same ethics.”
Inherent in that quote is the problem we confront today. Before you set up new standards that you intend to impose on everybody else, you at least, for your own products, have to follow the standards that are already in place. And if you’re going to set up a “lab” to pass judgment on individual products, companies, and even entire segments of the industry, then that lab better be GMP compliant and ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited for each and every test it runs. Otherwise, you’re liable to end up with “whey” on your face and your credibility as the ultimate “ethical” authority of the natural foods industry turned upside down. Or to put it another way: I’m not sure that selling 5 g of protein per scoop for $48.50 a canister qualifies as the “new course for the future of the natural products industry.”
I debated for several days on what to do with this information. Unlike Natural News, I’m not really into attacking companies within the alternative health industry–the FDA and big pharma do enough of that without help from one of our own. Then again, I have no problem countering erroneous information when I see it and defending others against inappropriate attacks when they occur. In the end, I simply couldn’t ignore the test results, especially since I knew that other people who weren’t so kindly disposed towards Mike and Natural News were also aware of these results, The bottom line, though, is that it is the mission of the Baseline of Health Foundation to inform, and no matter how kindly disposed I am towards Natural News, this is a story that consumers have a right–and a need–to know about. I believe that Mike Adams and Natural News do more good than harm, and I personally like them. But proclaiming yourself the natural nutrition industry’s, “higher testing authority” and missing the mark when it comes to testing your own products by 400% is simply unacceptable.
The bottom line is that you might want to take any numbers from any company that uses non-GMP compliant manufacturers, is not compliant itself, and that does all its testing in house in a non-compliant, non-accredited facility with a grain of salt.
And in addition to Matthew 7:1 that we cited earlier, Natural News might want to contemplate John 8:7, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
What it comes down to is that there’s more to quality assurance than just good intentions. As we’ve seen today, good intentions by themselves may only get you within 400% of reality–give or take. And when that 400% error is in the one measurement that’s actually the very raison d’être for your product (the amount of protein in a protein powder), it’s kind of a big deal in terms of the credibility of any of your test results. I think all of us in the industry are hoping that Mike Adams and Natural News stop using pseudoscience as a marketing tool to denigrate competing products and companies and that they stop trying to act as a higher moral authority. There are many moral and ethical companies outside of Natural News. As an industry, we need Natural News to step back from the brink and return to the hardcore reporting on which they built their well-deserved reputation.
In conclusion, you can judge for yourself, but I believe that despite its costs and deficiencies–and they are large and many–being cGMP compliant is important. If you’re ever in a position where “compromise is not an option” when it comes to the supplements you take, would you want anything less–could you afford to settle for anything less?
On April 16th, Natural News announced that they were taking our advice and had begun initiating the process to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation for their Natural News Forensic Food Lab.13http://www.naturalnews.com/044744_rice_protein_heavy_metals_petition_organic_superfoods.html This is good news, and they should be applauded for moving in that direction. It may turn out to be a more difficult process than they imagine, however. The standards are quite rigorous–but that’s why the results from accredited labs can be relied upon. Nevertheless, once they achieve that accreditation, test results coming out of the Forensic Food Lab can be viewed as authoritative. Until then, however, they should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism.
Then, on April 18th, Natural News acknowledged that the facts as stated above were correct and that the One World Whey that they had been endorsing, personally guaranteeing, and selling indeed contained only 5 g of protein per scoop as stated above.14 http://www.naturalnews.com/043617_one_world_whey_clean_protein_heavy_metals_lab_tests.html They also announced that sales of the current production of One World Whey had been halted. Of course, we now wait to see the announcement that the Natural News Marketplace has become cGMP compliant, as this would have rendered the entire article unnecessary and, in fact, the entire situation impossible.
|↑1||“Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and Interim Final Rule (IFR) Facts.” June 22, 2007 FDA. Accessed 29 Mar 2014. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/CGMP/ucm110858.htm#fr|
|↑9||Thompson M1, Owen L, Wilkinson K, Wood R, Damant A. “A comparison of the Kjeldahl and Dumas methods for the determination of protein in foods, using data from a proficiency testing scheme.” Analyst. 2002 Dec;127(12):1666-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12537377|
|↑12||Mike Adams. “Vegan protein heavy metals results republished by Natural News in new, improved charts.” February 08, 2014. Natural News (Accessed 8 April 2014.) http://www.naturalnews.com/043838_rice_protein_heavy_metals_data_charts.html|
Thank you Jon for bringing
Thank you Jon for bringing this to our attention. What Mike Adams did is outrageous. I used to really trust everything he said, but now, knowing he sells products with false labels, I am not sure I can believe anything the guy says anymore.
So how am I, or anyone else,
So how am I, or anyone else, to know whether a company actually produces good, clean, efficacious product, if even this standard really holds no water? Seems like there are way too many holes in the system to trust anyone’s claims.
They’re big and well established, I’ve bought from them for years. Has it all been placebo effect? Makes me think I should stop taking any supplements, and just focus on buying the highest quality natural fruits and vegetables and forget the rest!
I think you misread the
I think you misread the article. It didn’t say that you couldn’t trust the standard. It said that you actually have to follow the standard and not set yourself above it or outside of it. Yes, there are limitations to the cGMP and ISO accreditation. And yes, you need to know those limitations so you can intelligently work your way around them. But is that any different than going to a doctor and taking the doctor’s advice? Aren’t you frequently advised to “get a second opinion?”
The bottom line is that if cGMP is followed, you should be assured that you’re getting what’s on the label and that levels of toxins (microbes, heavy metals, etc.) are within legal specs—not an arbitrary standard, but legal standards. As to whether it works or not, that requires doing your homework and exercising your intelligence. If someone, however, doesn’t follow GMP, then as we’ve just learned, you’re assured of neither.
And as with any medical advise you choose to follow, you need to exercise your own intelligence, research, and discrimination—and get a second opinion when necessary.
I believe Mike Adams has the
I believe Mike Adams has the best of intentions, but he needs to dial it back. When reading his statements about being the “only” company that can make the claims he does sometimes brings the sceptic radar out big time. Thanks Jon for using the right “judgement” when reporting this. It is, unfortunately, the only way sometimes to call attention to errors in judgement by others.
How can we check on a
How can we check on a supplier/company’s product? It really is difficult. First, researching claims of benefits/non-benefits is part of one’s journey. However, researching the true facts about a company is beyond my resources. Your newsletters have become my source of information. Thank you. I am changing what I thought I knew as I read them.
Would this apply to vits/minerals sold in Australia? TGA (your FDA) makes quite stringent recommandations, tests every thing; so if product passes the TGA in Aus. then it should be OK to take in USA, don’t you think? Don’t these people realise that their customers rely on their honesty, integrity?
I thought Mike Adams a phony 10 years ago.
And I can read between the lines.
I have and will continue to dismiss Mike Adams to friends .
I have and will continue to praise and recommend you.
Your “friendship” is one of convenience. Your just too nice a man to say the word, “huckster”. And your company is too nice a company to publicly display this comment. I understand.
Great article . Thank you.
I think your quote…. “And
I think your quote…. “And as with any medical advise you choose to follow, you need to exercise your own intelligence, research, and discrimination—and get a second opinion when necessary” about sums it up. We’re often more interested in a “quick fix” or the next “guru” and end up allowing ourselves to be seduced by great salesmen who perhaps are well intentioned “most of the time”. Nothing takes the place of a good education for those striving to improve their lives. So folks, do the homework as much as possible. It’s called self responsibility! Thanks for your great ethics and for sharing your wealth of knowledge.
If I call someone ‘friend’ I
If I call someone ‘friend’ I call him or mail him and talk to him about a problem I have with his actions before I consider to go public. Why not nudge Mike to sort out things before belling the cat? Or did he refuse your results?
But Barbara, how would that
But Barbara, how would that have informed the thousands of people who have already purchased the mislabeled whey product—not to mention all those who would still be buying it in the belief that it was providing 400% more protein than it actually does, while we quietly talked to Mike in the background?
This doesn’t surprise me. I
This doesn’t surprise me. I quit reading Natural Health about 2 years ago. After reading his articles I would then check the source and a lot of the times I felt he “tweaked” or exaggerated a bit to conform to his thoughts or wishes.
Thanks for your integrity Jon!
Thank you for the very
Thank you for the very informative article. I have off and on followed Natural News for many years, from long before Mike Adams started to let every Tom, Dick, and Harry write for him. I didn’t even know he sells supplements, I certainly wouldn’t buy them. I don’t trust people who give me information only to sell me something.
I buy from Baseline Nutritionals, because Jon Barron first earned my trust. He did that with Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, where he informs, explains, and let’s the reader know what exactly to look for in a supplement. It’s left up to the me tto find the right product. I read every article I get in my email with great interest and am always learning something about my body. I never feel that the intent is to sell me something. I quit subscribing to other newsletters precisely because they were only after my money.
I had to chuckle: just yesterday I “unfriended” Natural News, because instead of health information they have been giving me rants about government conspiracies. Of course, many years ago he chose a web host in Taiwan, because of some government conspiracy…
What about your supplements
What about your supplements containing Stearic acid? It’s like a Magnesium stearate- hydrogenated oil?!
Maya, it appears you are
Maya, it appears you are unaware that stearic acid and magnesium stearate are actually two different compounds—a misunderstanding that unfortunately seems to have been perpetuated on many websites. The reality is that magnesium stearate is not the same thing as stearic acid, but a compound derived from it. Magnesium stearate is a salt that is made of two anions of stearic acid and one magnesium cation. This means it is an entirely new compound formed when the positive ions from stearic acid combine with magnesium. Stearic acid, on the other hand, is a fatty acid found in many animal and plant sources. If your goal is to avoid all stearic acid, then you will have to avoid eating all forms of meat and dairy, most grains and nuts, even many vegetables such as celery and cucumber—and all forms of chocolate. You might find the following link interesting since it lists the stearic acid content of a number of nuts. http://wholefoodcatalog.info/nutrient/stearic_acid/nuts_and_seeds/2/
What about Carnosine. I’ve
What about Carnosine. I’ve read the article about Carnosine causing the growth of cancer?!
Ah, I see, you’re not really
Ah, I see, you’re not really asking questions, but looking for a loaded gun to shoot the messenger, i.e., Jon. That said, neither stearic acid or carnosine work. In fact, despite “the” article you may have read, all scientific evidence points to carnosine actually being a cancer fighter, which is a good thing since your body is constantly producing its own supply of carnosine – just in diminishing amounts as we age. Coincidentally, the incidence of cancer seems to be inversely proportional to the levels of carnosine in our bodies—steadily rising as the levels drop. In the meantime, you might want to search Google on “carnosine cancer” to get an idea of the breadth of research on carnosine’s ability to fight cancer and inhibit tumors. http://wholefoodcatalog.info/nutrient/stearic_acid/nuts_and_seeds/2/
Thank you, Jon. I know this
Thank you, Jon. I know this couldn’t have been an easy thing to do, since you are friends with Mike Adams. I had followed him years ago and advocated his work, but then the tone began to change and his content sounded outrageous, if not hysterical, and it wasn’t long after I gave up on him and his website. He was just no longer credible. I have never swayed from your website and applaud you for the voice of reason that you are. You are a beacon in the craziness that has become “natural” news.
I also dropped reading
I also dropped reading anything from Mike Adams about a year or so ago, when I finally realized that he brings this kind of egocentric, holier than thou tone and attitude to everything. He quickly lost credibility in my eyes when he advocated and heavily sold a pyramid scheme supplement company program which was a total scam. His over the top political articles mixed in also turned me off from his website.
Thank you for finally exposing something with real scientific results to confirm what so many of us were already suspecting!
Adams has always been a fraud
Adams has always been a fraud. Even his old claim regarding no involvement in Amazon Herbs is a fraud as he has owned the distributorship for over a decade. He has no transparency and he began his operation by copying a true expert in the natural health field even modeling NN after her web sites. Copied material from her and many – still does – and gives no proper attribution, then resells tit for money. No ethics at all. Never would be a friend of mine!
Who is her? The article
Who is her? The article really makes me lose even more faith in naturalnews.
Pity no one tested the 16g
Pity no one tested the 16g unaccounted for ingredient(s) to determine what was actually in the supplement.
Baseline Foundation should
Baseline Foundation should now remove the tag “Supplement Company of the year” tag since it was awarded by Mike Adams and Natural News !!
The Baseline of Health
The Baseline of Health Foundation is not a supplement company and sells no supplements and has received no awards from Natural News. Are you talking about Baseline Nutritionals?
Yes of course – Baseline
Yes of course – Baseline Nutricionals are your main sponsors and are advertised in the newsletter, a mouse click away is Baseline Nutricionals web page where the “award” is proudly displayed.
However I would not dream of giving advice – all the information in the newsletter and articles are invaluable and very much appreciated – Mike Adams not at all by comparison.
I absolutely love your book
I absolutely love your book “Lessons from the Miracle Doctors”, and I recommend it to everyone. It has been my bible for quite some time. Last night at the hospital where I (unfortunately) work part time I recommended your book to the family of several patients.
I could be driving a brand new BMW or maybe a Ferrari if I didn’t spend so much $ on my health. I also have placed a lot of trust in whatever I have read on the Natural News website, and am also concerned about quality when it comes to health supplements. I am an attorney and an RN and am contemplating becoming a naturopathic doctor.
I am currently involved with a publisher of a big city newspaper who has been a journalist/publisher his entire life, whose views differ greatly from my own,….for example he believes that tap water and fluoride are fantastic and thinks I am crazy. He takes a statin but not coQ10…..drives me crazy. Recently I sent him an article from the Natural News website trying to prove a point I was making. I was very embarrassed when he looked up the actual studies quoted and found that the conclusions in the particular article were not based in fact….proof that all of my organic talk is gibberish… Mike Adams did not write the article of course, as he is now having other people submit articles. I don’t have time to read all of the studies that support the Natural News articles, which is why I subscribed to that site. I had hoped that what I was reading on that site was factual.
As an attorney I am very aware of the pitfalls of distorting what one reads in the case law in order to persuade a Judge to side with him/her in a ruling they are about to make. One must be precise in making arguments in Court. I cannot argue that a certain case stands for a particular proposition unless it really does stand for it. I cannot twist the facts of a case, anymore than someone should twist the facts of a study, so as to have it back up my argument. In the legal world the Judge does read the cases upon which we base our arguments upon, and would blow me out of the water if I distorted the facts. He would claim that I was either a liar who was trying to pull a fast one on him or I must just be too stupid to understand what was stated in the case that I was using to support the claim I was making. If a Judge thinks you are either a liar or an idiot, you tend to lose all credibility with that particular judge.
There is no room for fluff in that arena, nor should there be when one is presenting information to the public concerning Health topics, particularly because there are people who may not be able to understand everything written in the study itself and thus cannot test the validity of the conclusions made in the article. I had hoped that for the most part I could trust what was written in the articles on that site…with the exception of some of the conspiracy theory stuff…which was opinion anyway.
It’s hard to know who one can trust in this world, as for many it seems to be all about money. My only two definite trusted sites were Natural News and John Barron……. I love Mike Adams and Natural News and was saddened to realize that everything written in those articles is obviously not reviewed before being let loose on the readers. I have been meaning to write an email to Mike Adams about this but have just been too busy….then I saw your article here and decided to comment….
I am saddened to read about this issue with the protein powder…but you are correct concerning casting the first stone. To make some of the recent claims that have been made and to hold oneself out as he has recently, one must make sure he is beyond reproach. I hope he can fix the problem and address the other issue concerning those who are writing some of the articles appearing on his website.
BTW…I just purchased all of your detox stuff a month or two ago and will be starting soon. I also use the “Forever Young” supplement three times a day….I’ve done that other detox with the lemonade etc…Master Cleanser program several times…wow…If I made it through that I can do anything…. Thanks
Don’t pick on Mike Adams!
Don’t pick on Mike Adams!
The protein powder was a homeopathic blend. The 15g of carb powder “remembers” the essence of the protein in the 5g mixture. When the body sees the powder, it rearranges the molecules to form “isohomeogenic” protein which is 100% assimable. Labs can not measure homeopathic protein because science has not yet caught up with this. I buy this whey protein and mix 1gram of it with 1lb of wheat flour. In this 10C ratio, it equates to 99.9999% high quality protein.
Funniest comment yet!
Funniest comment yet!
The lesson here is that there
The lesson here is that there is no one above criticism especially the critic himself. This quest or if you prefer “witch hunt” was started by Mike Adams and to his detriment as he has set himself up as the hero. If the analysis on his own protein powder is proven true how he responds will determine the future of this quest. But I fear that I the consumer may be the loser in all this if those in the know do not let me know for reasons of their own. I question whether his own protein powder short comings would ever have been revealed if he had played nicely with everybody else. I do not know if the cGMP standard is foolproof but your point that any lab doing analysis needs to be compliant in order to be taken seriously is important. I think that the health supplement industry is getting very profitable and I do not trust many of them as morals and profit can be a tradeoff though need not be. Anyway you are probably more a friend to Mike Adams saying what you are saying in this article than many will realize.
Thank you many times over for this important information. I have been reading your emails for a few years, this one is on my top 10 list. You are a blessing!! Your products are a blessing. I pray that Mike Adams will accept your information and make the necessary changes from here on and into the future.
Please keep informing us and keeping us healthy…mentally, physically and spiritually.
Stop being a troll, just
Stop being a troll, just because one product a man promotes..perhaps has less protein than the label says..come one..how important is that compared to all of the other obviously important information he has brought to light….
Kind of like saying, because when he cleaned the dishes he left a dirty one…means you should never listen to anything the man says about anything..only fooling the less intelligent of your readers with that staement.
Your comments do raise a
Your comments do raise a couple of issues worth addressing. It’s not just “one product” a man promotes having less protein than the label says. It’s a PROTEIN supplement having 400% less protein than advertised. That’s actually, kind of a big deal—at least to anyone buying it.
You also said “perhaps” has less protein. That implies that you think results from Mike’s non-GMP compliant, non-ISO accredited Forensic Lab are likely to be more trustworthy than the results from four independent, third party, fully cGMP compliant, and ISO whey protein certified testing labs. That’s certainly an interesting perspective.
In addition, it sounds like you’re saying that Mike should get a free pass because of the good things he’s done in the past. I can think of a lot of defense attorneys who would love to be able to use that argument during a trial.
But most important of all, you seem to be saying the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many—that to protect Mike, we should not inform the thousands of customers who are buying what they think is a top of the line, personally guaranteed by Mike, high end protein supplement, but instead are ending up with less protein than a glass of milk. While it’s true that for bodybuilders buying it, it just means they’re being cheated; it more disturbingly means that for those needing a concentrated protein source to recover from serious illness or injury, getting shortchanged by 400% on the protein they expect could actually prove fatal.
It’s a tradeoff that you might feel was the right thing to do to protect MIke, but for better or worse (depending on your point of view), we can’t agree with. We felt that the people buying the whey that Mike promoted needed to know. Sorry you thought we were trolls for doing that.
I think a lot of people are
I think a lot of people are missing this is not about just Mike Adams. The protein supplement he sells is not his, he just distributes it.
This brand has been recommended as a top brand by other reputable individuals in the health industry long before Mike started promoting it.
Yes, Mike looks worse here because he has been trying to set a new standard in quality. However, I would also like to say in principal I applaud his intent. Hopefully Mike will improve as a result of this failure as what he is attempting to do is something consumers really want.
It’s probably important to
It’s probably important to make note of the fact that the article wasn’t actually about Mike, but about the importance of following existing standards. The dramatic error in the protein level of the whey endorsed by Mike was used as an example of what happens when you don’t—and to inform the purchasers of the whey that they were getting far less than promised. (Let’s not forget that they were actually the ones hurt by it.) Perhaps, then, instead of applauding Mike for trying to set “new,” non-compliant, non-accredited standards, we should first encourage him to adhere to the existing standards that actually have meaning. Yes, they cost substantially more than running your own non-accredited tests, but as we now can see, they are more likely to produce accurate results—by about 400%– that truly protect consumers.
I wasn’t applauding Mike for
I wasn’t applauding Mike for “trying to set “new,” non-compliant, non-accredited standards”. I applaud Mike’s intent of bringing better quality products to all of us and informing us about products that may have harmful ingredients. I certainly don’t applaud methods that don’t work.
Intent is always nice. But
Intent is always nice. But people do not buy products on someone’s nice intentions. They trust what the label says, and they should. It’s also the law.
A great and informative, if
A great and informative, if not certainly provocative, article by Jon. I have found it interesting that Natural News has not publicly responded to Jon’s findings (via 3rd party tests). Has Mike at least removed the said whey product from the product line?
I do have a question, however, which has been on my mind for years (have been buying Baseline supplements for about 9 years). Why is the Super Food not made with organic ingredients? When I once asked a Bseline representative this question, the reply was, “Jon Barron takes the Super Food himself.” Needless to say, this is not an answer to the question posed. The herbal tinctures from Baseline, for example, are of the highest quality, carrying either the organic or “wild crafted” labels. But the Super Food, incomprehensibly, contains no organic ingredients. Is it cost? If so, the price is about the same as many other organically formulated products, albeit perhaps not as comprehensive as Baseline’s Super Food. BTW, I have been buying the product for years for my elderly mother, and really would feel better if I knew that all the issues associated with non-organic grains and vegetables were not impacting her for the worse.
To be clear, the Baseline of
To be clear, the Baseline of Health Foundation does not sell product and is not directly connected to Baseline Nutritionals. That said, we can answer this question for you.
Jon is very clear about his order of priority when selecting ingredients for his formulas. That is:
When organic is available, that is Jon’s first choice. But for some ingredients, such as pre-sprouted Activated Barley for example, there is only one company in the world that makes it, and they don’t offer organic, so non-GMO is the choice. Likewise, there is only one company in the world that makes Graminex Flower Pollen Extract, and the only choice for that ingredient is non-irradiated. But again, when organic is reliably available, that is Jon’s first choice.
So let’s talk about Jon’s Superfood. When you say the Superfood does not use organic ingredients, we’re not sure what you’re referring to. If you actually look at the label for the Superfood formula on the Baseline Nutritionals website, a majority of the ingredients are clearly marked with the “+” symbol after their name indicating they are organic. Specifically, the ingredients identified in the formula as organic include:
Hope that explains things.
Great informative article.
Great informative article. Yours always are. And such an eye-opener for me. I’ve seen cGMP labeled on some products, but never knew what it fully meant/entailed. My only complaint is I wish you’d written this three weeks ago, before I ordered and received 1 each of the vanilla and chocolate whey product sold at the NN store. I guess I can “look on the bright side” that at least they’re heavy metal free (which is VERY important to me in any product I buy), but only 5g protein per serving?! I’ve been duped- and what a waste of my hard earned money. :
There was a comment on page 1 about magnesium stearate. Some companies use magnesium stearate ‘vegetable source’. Is this any better than non-vegetable source?
Thanks for your help
Magnesium stearate and
Magnesium stearate and vegetable stearate are two different things – it is a matter of chemistry. Magnesium stearate contains magnesium (Mg(C18H35O2)2). Vegetable stearate (aka stearic acid) does not (C18H36O2). If you read somewhere that someone is using magnesium stearate ‘vegetable source’, that is misleading. Likewise, if you read somewhere, as it says on many websites, that magnesium stearate and vegetable stearate are the same thing, they also are incorrect. They do not understand basic chemistry. And yes, many formulas can be made without the use of stearic acid, but others cannot. It all depends on whether or not any of the ingredients used are “sticky” or “gummy.” If so, they stick to the encapsulation or tableting equipment and jam it. The use of stearate prevents that. It’s not a question of ease or cost. It’s a question of whether you can make the product at all. An ingredient such as avocado soy unsaponifiables will gum up a machine in seconds if used without a lubricating agent. You can’t make any capsules without it – no matter how slowly you go. If you’re only making formulas with dry powders and non-sticky ingredients, on the other hand, it’s not necessary. Then you can say that you never use stearic acid. Unfortunately, you also have to exclude some of the most powerful and healthful ingredients in existence from your formulas.
Vegetable stearate is found naturally occurring in coconut, palm, and olive oils – hardly a harmful excipient.
Hope that helps.
Yeah I don’t trust this guy
Yeah I don’t trust this guy neither, if his lab is not valid, how can we believe in whatever he says?
I do NOT trust Stephen Heuer
I do NOT trust Stephen Heuer at all. I started taking One World Whey when it FIRST came out 3 years ago. It changed my life. After about my third batch – it DRASTICALLY changed. The color was totally different, as was the taste and RESULT. I inquired and Stephen told me himself that NOTHING had changed. I knew better. I called back and one of his employees told me that it had changed and that they were now shipping FROZEN milk to California for processing and making the Whey when the other had been FRESH milk. I never used his product again. He is NOT an honest man!!!