Study Finds Some Protein Powders Contain Toxins

on 3/7/18 3:40 am - MA

A new study by the Clean Label Project found that several protein powders contain toxins that can be harmful to your health.

High levels of heavy metals, BPA, pesticides and other toxins associated with cancer were found in the 134 protein powder products, from 52 brands, tested by the Clean Label Project.

It screened animal-based, plant-based and whey protein powders for over 130 toxins.

More than half of the protein powders tested had detectable levels of BPA, or Bisphenol-A, an industrial chemical used in manufacturing plastic items.

Studies have linked BPA to cancer. The chemical, which is also found in some plastic items, is also linked to infertility.

And according to the study, organic powders aren't necessarily better, or safer. The organic powders tested in the study had, on average, more than twice the heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium, than non-organic powders. 75 percent of plant-based powders tested positive for lead.

The study rated these products among the worst protein powders:

Garden of Life Organic Plant Formula Chocolate Raw Organic Protein
Orgain Organic Meal Creamy Chocolate Fudge
Vega Vanilla Protein and Greens
Ancient Nutrition Vanilla Bone Broth Protein
Quest Vanilla Milkshake Protein Powder

The study rated these products among the best protein powders:

Ancient Nutrition Cinnamon Apple Bone Broth Protein
Biochem Vanilla 100% Whey Protein
Jarrow Formulas Chocolate Whey Protein
Naked Nutrition Naked Whey
Pure Protein Vanilla Cream 100% Whey

  • 4'11"
  • High Weight before LapBand: 200
  • High Weight before RNY: 160
  • CW: 121
  • below goal in 9 months

on 3/7/18 5:03 am
VSG on 11/19/14

Wow - I am surprised to see Quest on the rated as one of the worst, that is alarming. Thanks for the tip.

HW - 299 , Consult day weight - 277, Day of surgery - 259, LW - 178, CW - 207

on 3/7/18 5:07 am - MA

Honestly, I am pretty skeptical about studies like this, and I probably won't throw away the last bit of Quest in my pantry over it...

But I'm sharing because I prefer to arm myself with all available information. If I were just starting out, I might start with egg based ones, if the stats are just as comparable to whey...

  • 4'11"
  • High Weight before LapBand: 200
  • High Weight before RNY: 160
  • CW: 121
  • below goal in 9 months

Sparklekitty, Hag of Science
on 3/7/18 10:36 am
VSG on 12/10/13

Information is lovely, but context is more important. This group is using a tiny bit of information in an attempt to create fear, which negates the entire report IMO.

Nerdy Little Secret (#42) - Tucson Roller Derby

(deactivated member)
on 3/7/18 6:43 am
VSG on 03/01/18

Thanks for sharing this. So nice to have inside knowledge on what we are told to consume while our tummies are healing. Did u include a link? I might b overlooking it. I woild like to read it. I dont see my powders listed on either list.

on 3/7/18 8:22 am - CA

This sounds like one of those "that's nice, now what do we do about it" type of studies. Assuming some validity, it can be a useful wake up call to the manufacturers to better investigate their supply chain. From the consumer's perspective, since the makers aren't out there adding BPA, etc to their product but are getting it from the ingredients that they are buying, it isn't all that helpful as the next time such a study is done, the products on the high and low lists will be different as manufactures may shift their suppliers from one batch to another.

Beyond that there is always the matter of what toxins are being tested for, and is a detectable level harmful to us? Alcohol is a toxin to us but not in the quantity associated with casual drinking. Then there is the slippery slope of "associated with cancer" - water is associated with cancer, so should we avoid that (ref:, tongue firmly in cheek.)

1st support group/seminar - 8/03 (has it been that long?)  

Wife's DS - 5/05 w Dr. Robert Rabkin   VSG on 5/9/11 by Dr. John Rabkin


CJ On Orcas
on 3/7/18 8:35 am
RNY on 09/09/16

Yikes! Two of the protein powders I have used are on that worst list! That is scary.

Sparklekitty, Hag of Science
on 3/7/18 10:34 am, edited 3/7/18 2:37 am
VSG on 12/10/13

The Clean Label Project, as a group, is full of **** and they're only out to scare you. (Source)

They claim "detectable levels" or "high levels" of chemicals... but don't specify if that meets the threshold to the amount of a substance known to cause harm.

Anything with the word "toxin" is an immediate red flag!

Nerdy Little Secret (#42) - Tucson Roller Derby

on 3/7/18 10:54 am - MA

Thanks, friend. I always appreciate a good science lesson from you!

  • 4'11"
  • High Weight before LapBand: 200
  • High Weight before RNY: 160
  • CW: 121
  • below goal in 9 months

Gwen M.
on 3/8/18 4:59 am
VSG on 03/13/14

Thanks for giving the source link, Julie. Someone in my local bariatric facebook group posted the same article this morning and I was like "wait! I have a link!"

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

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