South African Whey and Casein protein powders lack important amino acids

Posted 07 November 2019

This South African study found that  the the majority of 100% Whey or Casein protein powders, e.g. made by USN, Nutritech, Evox , do not contain the levels of protein as indicated on the label. But more seriously, these products claim to build muscle – but have been stripped of essential amino acids so they are not “proper proteins” and therefore, cannot do so, but can only be utilised as fuel.

Subject: 12th IFDC 2017 Special Issue – High protein sports supplements: Protein quality and label compliance


12th IFDC 2017 Special Issue – High protein sports supplements: Protein quality and label compliance⋆ Hettie C.Schönfeld Nicolette Hall BeulahPretorius Journal of Food Composition and Analysis Volume 83, October 2019, 103293


  • International harmonization of food-type supplement regulations is limited.
  • Protein supplements are not distinctly regulated in S. Africa by local food control.
  • Commercial high-protein sport supplement label compliance/protein quality tested.
  • Nearly 70% of products misreported total protein content.
  • Protein quality of 40% of products below required minimum for claims.


Sport supplements classified as foods (and not as medicine) must contain specified amounts and qualities of protein before a prescribed list of health-benefit claims may be made on labels or in marketing activities. The objective of the current study was to investigate the protein composition and quality of high-protein sports supplements currently available to consumers within South Africa, and possibly other countries. This study will provide a better understanding of the current protein powder supplement industry to inform food control agencies for their future policy and program development. Actual protein contents analyzed were statistically different (p < 0.05) from the respective labels in 68.6% of the 70 products. Five products (7%) had protein content values differing by more than 25% of that stated on the product label. In addition, amino acid content (indicative of protein quality) was assessed on a subsample of 15 products. According to current draft label regulations of foods, the protein quality of 40% of these products was below the threshold, thus disqualifying them to make any protein benefit claims on product labels or in other marketing activities. The results of this study indicate that more widespread South Africa government controls and or enforcement of existing regulations need to be enacted and maintained.

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