All Supplements Are Not Created Equal

Girl eating cheeseburgerImagine you order some hamburgers from the $1.00 menu at your favorite fast-food chain. A high school aged employee promptly fixes up your order and within minutes you are enjoying your meal. That night, while watching the news, you are surprised and horrified to discover that the very restaurant that you purchased your hamburgers from may have misled you with their advertising. You are shocked to learn that the “100% Grade-A Prime Rib all-beef patty” is actually made mostly of low-quality trimmings and non-beef fillers! It turns out that the only way for them to stay in business selling $1.00 burgers is for them to cut several corners to help limit cost and extend the shelf life of their hamburger patties.

Would this experience and knowledge forever change the way you view hamburgers at all restaurants? Are the hamburger-making practices of this fast-food restaurant chain representative of all restaurants’ hamburger-making practices? Of course not. While this may be the practice at some of the most common mass-marketed chains, you know that there are plenty of reputable restaurants that use high-quality ingredients and highly trained chefs that will prepare 100% pure beef hamburgers made from quality cuts – exactly as promised and advertised. Many restaurants can even point you to the specific farms that provided each specific ingredient. Sure, they cost a little bit more, but as they saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

A senior man shoppingSo why is it that when reports that some popular nutritional supplement brands are contaminated, adulterated or otherwise mislabeled that consumers and some health care providers are quick to assume that this is the case with all supplements on the market? In a recent news release, authorities tested several top-selling store brand products found at some of the largest retailers in the nation and discovered that as many as 4 out of 5 did not actually contain all of the ingredients listed on the label. The result was a public outcry and renewed debate about the safety and quality of all nutritional supplements.

This recent news story highlights an obviously unacceptable practice that is not only deceptive to consumers, but can also put them at significant health risks. But does this mean that all nutritional supplements should be avoided? Is this finding something that can be generalized across all manufacturers of nutritional supplements? The answer is no.

Restaurant Staff Pinnaclife is a prime example of a company that goes above and beyond the requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that all products contain exactly what the labels indicate. We know that nutritional supplements need to be treated with the same level of respect as pharmaceutical drugs, so we hold ourselves to the same regulatory standards.1,2 All products are manufactured in the United States at a cGMP facility and they undergo rigorous independent third-party testing on the raw ingredients and final products to ensure purity and potency.

Remember – this is not a problem that is isolated to nutritional supplements, but is also a common practice for food producers that are regulated under the same FDA governance. If you are concerned about the safety and quality of your dietary supplements, then you should also have equal concern for the types of foods you decide to feed to your family.

Some of the most commonly adulterated food products include:

  • Olive oil: Frequently diluted with cheaper oils including vegetable oil and even animal lard and also not actually from the claimed country of origin.3 
  • Fish marketFish and seafood: After completing genetic testing at several retailers, investigators found 16% of sushi restaurants and 39% of grocery stores were selling mislabeled seafood.3 
  • Honey, Maple Syrup, and Natural Sweeteners: frequently made from cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, fragrances, flavorings, and colorings to resemble the intended product. Some have been found to contain unapproved additives, antibiotics, and even harmful heavy metals.3
  • Milk and milk based products: bovine dairy products have been found to contain milk from sheep, buffalo, goats, and antelope. Products have also been found to be adulterated with urea, rennet, oil, detergent, caustic soda, and sugar. Melamine is a harmful compound commonly used in plastics and adhesives that is sometimes added to dairy products and baby formulas to artificially raise the apparent protein content.3
  • 100% fruit juices have been found to be diluted with cheaper juices not listed on the label, and also to contain added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, dyes, and flavorings.3
  • Coffee: reports of products being diluted with leaves, twigs, roasted corn, barley, and ground parchment. Chicory, cereals, caramel, parchment, starch, malt, and figs have all been found in instant coffee.3
  • Tea: some products have been found to contain colored saw dust, color additives, and leaves from other unknown plants.3
  • Spices: adulterants used in spices like saffron, black pepper, vanilla, turmeric, star anise, paprika, and chili powder include sandalwood dust, tartrazine, barium sulfate, borax, glycerin, starch, papaya seeds, buckwheat, flour, twigs, millet, and dyes (some linked to cancer).3
  • “100% beef” products actually containing 30-100% horse meat. (

It is important for you to be diligent in finding foods and supplements that come from reputable companies that you can trust, like Pinnaclife.4–7 We are transparent with regards to our manufacturing and testing and only use raw ingredients from companies with the same commitment to quality, purity, and transparency. It is for these reasons that we can stand behind our products and guarantee that when you use our supplements you are only getting the scientifically backed ingredients listed on the label.

  1. Van Breeman RB, Fong HHS, Farnsworth NR. The Role of Quality Assurance and Standardization in the Safety of Botanical Dietary Supplements. Chem Res Toxicol. 2008;20(4):577–582. doi:10.1021/tx7000493.The.
  2. Ventola CL. Current Issues Regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( CAM ) in the United States Part 2 : Regulatory and Safety Concerns and Proposed Governmental Policy Changes with Respect to Dietary Supplements. P&T. 2010;35(9):514–522.
  3. Johnson R. Food Fraud and “ Economically Motivated Adulteration ” of Food and Food Ingredients. Congr Res Serv Rep. 2014;January(R43358):1–40. Available at:
  4. Cassileth BR, Heitzer M, Wesa K. The Public Health Impact of Herbs and Nutritional Supplements. Pharm Biol. 2009;47(8):761–767. doi:10.1080/13880200902991581.The.
  5. Newmaster SG, Grguric M, Shanmughanandhan D, Ramalingam S, Ragupathy S. DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products. BMC Med. 2013;11(1):222. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-222.
  6. Rotblatt MD. Herbal medicine : a practical guide to safety and quality assurance. WJM. 1999;171:172–175.
  7. Cohen P a. American roulette–contaminated dietary supplements. N Engl J Med. 2009;361(16):1523–5. doi:10.1056/NEJMp0904768.

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