GoNutrition CEO and founder Oliver Cookson says too many firms are engaged in the practice that has picked up momentum during the economic recession as firms engage in cost-cutting measures.
“With the tough economic climate and a more price conscious consumer we’ve started to notice an increasing number of brands using inferior quality ingredients in their formulas in order to lower costs,” Cookson said.
“To hide this change from the consumer these companies declare groups of ingredients as a ‘proprietary blend’, which in simple terms means that they can place high quality ingredients at the top of their ingredient list, even if they’re using very low levels.”
Cookson founded GoNutrition in August last year after selling his previous business, MyProtein. The firm makes about 500 products.
He said the ‘proprietary blend’ situation represented a loophole that needed to be closed to prevention consumer deception.
“If a manufacturer isn’t willing to give an exact breakdown of the active ingredients in a product then consumers should ask themselves why,” he said.
Black box blending
The same call was made recently by blending specialist Henrik Stamm Kristensen, the CEO of Spanish firm, Premium Blendhub, who called it ‘black box’ blending.
He noted a company could blend whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate and skimmed milk powder, for example, and then label the blend ‘milk proteins’ – or mix pectin of varying quality and origin and simply label it ‘pectin’.
“They are not interested in being transparent,” Stamm Kristensen told our sister site FoodNavigator. “…As long as you have this black box there is no trust.”
While GoNutrition products like BurnMax have not drawn any issues over formulation, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has censored fat burning and muscular claims for being unauthorised in EU law.