Its been a really embarrassing month for bodybuilding.com. First a $7,000,000 by the FDA for laced supplements and now they are smack in the middle of the Gaspari’s Myofusion protein powder debacle.
In June 2012, someone on reddit discovers that Gaspari’s Myofusion only has about half the protein that the label states and publishes their test results. Bodybuilding.com is probably the nations leading seller of this protein powder and pushes it all the time on their website. The Gaspari team’s response left even people on the bodybuilding.com forums incredulous. Gaspari chose the disgraced testing lab Covance and promised additional testing later which never materialized. For those not familiar with Covance, it has a very tainted history. In the 1990s, Covance performed studies paid for by the tobacco industry which ‘proved’ that even extreme exposure to secondhand smoke was safe for humans. Doesn’t give you warm fuzzies about the integrity of their work. You can look at the Covance test results yourself on Gaspari’s website.
One big thing that people on the bodybuilding.com forums were upset about (in addition to their findings that second hand smoke isn’t dangerous) was that they are not an ISO accredited laboratory as it says at the bottom of the test results. What bothers ME is that these test results have a glaring hole in them. What about the testing for toxic impurities? Consumer Reports Magazine, the most respected product testing group in America listed their #1 concern with protein powders to be the toxic materials lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
Consumer Reports Magazine
September 2010: supplement quality problems
July 2010: heavy metals in protein powders
“Because of inadequate quality control and inspection, supplements contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides or prescription drugs have been sold to unsuspecting consumers” - Consumer Reports
“China, which has repeatedly been caught exporting contaminated products, is a major supplier of raw supplement ingredients” - Consumer Reports
Why on earth did Gaspari do only partial tests in response to the reddit accusations? Didn’t they realize that their companies reputation was on the line and that they needed to convince consumers beyond a shadow of a doubt that their product was safe and effective? With all the labs out there, why did they choose the reputation-tainted Covance laboratories and why did they leave out the toxics tests? Do they know something that we don’t? What are they trying to hide?
So have consumers only been getting half the product they have ordered? People are going to be very rightly very upset if this is the case as protein powder is expensive and many people have to work hard for their supplement dollars. What I’m much more worried about is why the toxic tests were omitted. Is this product tainted with lead, mercury, and arsenic? Why hasn’t bodybuilding.com taken the leadership role in this issue in assuring consumers that the disputed product is safe and effective? Why does bodybuilding.com push this product so hard?
The management team at bodybuilding.com seems to have learned nothing from their experience with laced supplements which happened back in 2009. Their recent $7,000,000 fine was because bodybuilding.com was selling supplements containing steroids. No they didn’t make them but they were selling them and as the FDA made clear to them that all those who distribute supplements will be held responsible for their contents and they needed to take steps to insure this didn’t happen again. Well any intelligent person would have seen the writing on the wall and said, “Hey, we are going to be held liable for stuff we sell so perhaps we should test all our products so we don’t get our butts sued”. Well its been over 3 years and management seems to be a sleep at the helm.
The silly thing is that bodybuilding.com could have easily prevented this protein powder kerfuffle had they learned from their 2006-2009 FDA trouble selling laced supplements. All bodybuilding.com had to do was start testing each of the products they sell once a year and publishing the results, not only would this weed out the few bad supplements but it would eliminate the call for strict FDA regulation and also squash internet reports like this reddit protein powder report. With all the test results on available on the internet, all bodybuilding.com would have had to do is post a link to their Gaspari Myofusion test results from an accredited ISO lab and the issue would have been closed. It would cost too much? Not at all! Yes bodybuilding.com sells lots of products but they make hundreds of millions of dollars. Testing each product just once a year would only add pennies per bottle to the supplement price. The $7,000,000 that bodybuilding.com was fined for distributing laced supplements could have provided years of testing and a lot more consumer confidence.
Perhaps it will take a second scandal at bodybuilding.com to get them to do the right thing and start testing all the products they sell and post the results online. Maybe this Gaspari protein powder issue will convince them. With their recent $7,000,000 fine by the FDA, the writing is on the wall – large distributers like bodybuilding.com are responsible for the products they sell. If they don’t start acting responsibly they will be fined and sued out of existence or regulated into oblivion.