Below you can find more information on our commitment to drug free products and what this means.
What is the risk of supplement contamination?
Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and foodborne illness. There is a concern for consumers that dietary supplements may be contaminated with banned substances. The sports supplement industry is very broad, it ranges from companies like HIGH5 who supply modified food and our ingredients are the same as those found in your weekly shopping basket. At the other end of the scale are some supplement companies selling an array of products, which may contain questionable material. Unfortunately we are all grouped under the same heading. There are also very different rules and practices in many countries for manufacturing and labelling of supplements.
However, there is some good news! The latest evidence suggests that banned substance contamination in supplements is very low (below 1%)(1). Additionally, research has shown that positive tests arise mainly from contaminated supplements like creatine, multivitamins and weight control products. In this study, 152 samples were analysed. There was only one positive sample in the energy and protein product group, whilst the “other” category (supplements like creatine, multivitamins and weight control products) came back with 15 positives(2. This suggests that there is a minimal risk from using energy and protein products.
It’s important that you are well informed about the quality controls and testing that sports nutrition brands have in place.
What does HIGH5 do to minimise the risk?
We are completely transparent in the procedures we have in place so that you can always be confident when using HIGH5 products. It is essential that contamination is deterred from the moment a new product idea is born. We never use ingredients that are on the list of WADA named banned substances. When we develop new products the potential contamination risks of all ingredients are assessed before a product makes it to the production stage and released on the market. Our regular batch testing for WADA banned substances has never come back positive.
We believe a comprehensive quality programme should be individually customised to offer peace of mind for the consumer. We regularly analyse our quality control policy and are audited multiple times a year by BRC to offer the highest quality and safe products. We have extremely high standards when it comes to the competence, qualifications and experience of our staff, and they are closely monitored. All procedures ensure the production standards are stringently maintained.
*Glycerine in Bars: The HIGH5 EnergyBar and 4:1 Bar both contain glycerine at low levels. WADA provide the following advice to athletes: “Glycerol is prohibited as a plasma expander. The consumption of quantities of glycerol far beyond those commonly found in e.g. foods, beverages, personal care products, medicinal tablets tuffs, cough syrup is required to produce an Adverse Analytical Finding. Therefore, its prohibition is not intended to prevent the ingestion of this substance in the amounts commonly found in foodstuffs and toiletries, as such small quantities will not cause an athlete to test positive for this Prohibited Substance.”
Should you have any remaining concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply don’t use our EnergyBar and 4:1 Bar. HIGH5 Bars are manufactured at a separate production facility to our other products.
We do not use Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) as an ingredient in HIGH5 products.
HIGH5 manufacture to BRC Food Standards. This sets extremely high benchmarks for manufacturing and you can find more information on this further down. Where we use contract manufacturers, they have been carefully selected. These companies manufacture “normal” food products and have Informed Sport accreditation or similar strict protocols in place to take every reasonable steps to eliminate the possibility of cross contamination during manufacture.
We always take great care when choosing our suppliers and make an informed decision before using a new ingredient or supplier.
With such stringent protocols and controls in place, there is no credible risk of WADA banned substance contamination in HIGH5 products. In line with many other sports nutrition brands, we random batch test for banned substances throughout the year to verify the procedures we have in place. Its no surprise that HIGH5 products have never tested positive for a WADA banned substance. We have been supplying sports nutrition products to elite and professional athletes for over 20 years without an athlete testing positive from contaminated products. Samples of every batch are kept throughout the product’s shelf life. Our regular banned substance testing, and 100% proven track record give us the confidence to supply HIGH5 products to World and Olympic Champions.
As products are manufactured to BRC standards, are not formulated with ingredients from the WADA list of named prohibited substances and are tested randomly for WADA banned substances. We understand that some athletes would still prefer to use products that have been specifically tested for WADA banned substances. We offer a selection of tested products via our online shop. A certificate from LGC lab is provided with these products. Simply choose “WADA tested” from the flavour selection on the individual product page. If you require additional products or you live outside the UK then please contact us. You can find out more information about the testing standards from LGC below.
Product testing by LGC labs
Since 2006 we randomly test products using the world-renowned sports doping control and research lab LGC (previously known as HFL), which also runs the Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice supplement testing programmes. Supported by UK Sport, LGC offers a supplement testing service accredited to the ISO 17025 standard. This is an internationally recognised standard for analytical labs and ensures the accredited methods have been shown to be robust, capable of working to the required detection limits every time, and thus ensuring the integrity and consistency of the analytical results. ISO 17025 is the industry standard for an analytical laboratory.
Testing by a trusted lab is important to reassure us and you that HIGH5 products are free from relevant contamination of prohibited substances. Besides the ISO 17025 standard LGC also have experience of testing within the framework of WADA. Their testing capability for supplements includes the analysis for over 146 substances that are considered prohibited in sport and substances that pose a threat in respect of product contamination. These substances include anabolic agents, stimulants, beta-2-agonists, recreational drugs and masking agents. Their highly sensitive tests can detect contamination down to 10ng/g for steroids and 100ng/g for stimulants. That’s like testing for a rain drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool. The LGC test is able to analyse all our products for relevant prohibited substances.
We regularly get asked if HIGH5 and our products are Informed Sport accredited – we are not but some of our suppliers have Informed Sport certification. Informed Sport, a commercial company, is owned by LGC, the same world-class sports anti-doping lab used for our testing. Their quality assurance programme for food manufacturers and brands is voluntary.
We believe the ethos of the Informed Sport programme is good for the sports nutrition industry as a whole. Since its introduction it has raised the quality level, awareness of supplement contamination and we have seen a reduction in contaminated products. However, there needs to be alternative programmes to drive and maintain the best standards for the consumers. We have our own stringent quality control in place alongside regular testing, and with a 100% track record, HIGH5 is able to offer a similar level of protection for athletes using HIGH5 products.
Why don’t HIGH5 rely on testing alone?
We believe that simply testing products for banned substances does not go far enough for drugs free products. It is essential to have the right protocols and policies in place to stop contamination during the manufacturing stages. Testing still plays a vital part within any quality control policy, especially for drugs free products. We regularly test our products as verification of the steps we have in place to stop any contamination by prohibited substances. In over 20 years of making advanced sports nutrition products, we have never had a positive test.
Testing a product for banned substances does not mean that the product is guaranteed drugs free. No manufacturer or quality assurance program can make this claim. Let’s look into this a bit further:
Firstly the WADA Prohibited List is not definitive. The list stipulates classes of prohibited substances, such as anabolic agents and related substances and prohibited methods only, rather than publishing a full list of substances. When analysing a supplement product for contaminants the Prohibited List is unable to act as a checklist for all prohibited substances against which products should be screened. Testing supplements cannot guard against contamination using untried, untested and unknown drugs or substances. However, LGC’s vast understanding of product testing and previous experience as a WADA accredited lab testing for banned substances, means they are able to identify a list of substances for testing that maintain integrity for the tests.
Secondly, when testing a sample of a product batch there will always be a large proportion of the product that is not analysed and it is possible that the rest of the batch contains the contaminant. For example, a batch could be 500kg but only a 100g sample is analysed. That means 499.9kg of the batch was not analysed. It is quite possible that if a banned substance contaminated the product it was not in present in the sample.
Testing should be seen as an additional quality control measure rather than a guarantee of drug free products. Instead we need to eliminate the risk of contamination at the source and implement a rigorous and strict manufacturing protocol. Over 20 years of manufacturing advanced sports nutrition products means HIGH5 have the experience and knowledge in place to produce safe quality products for athletes.
About the BRC Food Safety Standards
HIGH5 is audited multiple times a year by BRC (British Retail Consortium), a leading safety and quality certification programme, used by over 23,000 certificated suppliers in 123 countries. The Standards guarantee the standardisation of quality, safety and operational criteria and ensure that we fulfil our legal obligations and provide protection for the end consumer. The certification provides independent verification of internationally defined standards. This means you can have confidence in our food safety program and supply chain management.
The BRC Food Safety Standard helps to establish good manufacturing practices so we can produce safe, legal products that meet the quality levels expected by our customers. It sets out requirements for the management of food safety and quality, including supplier approval, traceability, and the management of incidents and product recalls. Also included is the production environment, which covers the layout and maintenance of the buildings and equipment, cleaning, pest control, waste management and foreign body controls. The Food Safety Standard additionally covers the requirements for product design and development stage including allergen management, product and ingredient provenance, product packaging and product inspection and testing. Through regular and extensive training, HIGH5 staff are aware of the standards they have to meet to produce safe and quality products.
You might wonder what this has to do with our drugs free policy but the Standards provide us the framework to provide safe quality products. Throughout this framework we have also included our own safety checks and controls for banned substance control to offer products that are suitable for athletes. We have chosen to put this programme in place because we believe safe and drugs free products start with the correct manufacturing practises.
The WADA, their Code and the Prohibited List
WADA’s mission is “to lead a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport”. WADA was established in 1999 as an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti Doping Code (also known as the Code).
The Code harmonizes anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sport organizations and among public authorities around the world. Its main purpose is to protect the clean athlete. The World Anti-Doping Program is based on this fundamental and universal document. All athletes should be aware of the Code.
Although The Code emphasises that the athlete needs to take responsibility for what they ingest and use (Article 21.1.3), if the athlete is able to establish no significant fault or negligence in taking a contaminated product, then the period of ineligibility can be reduced to a reprimand and no period of ineligibility. The recently updated Code provides a framework for stronger sanctions with a greater degree of flexibility by allowing a shorter sanction if the athlete can prove that he or she was not cheating. This could be the case with a contaminated supplement, for example.
There is no credible risk of contamination in HIGH5 products but unintentional contamination cannot be discounted for any product or brand. We keep samples of all our products throughout their shelf life and can test batches if there are any suspicions of contamination by a banned substance.
WADA does not offer any certification process for supplements and therefore does not certify or endorse manufacturers or their products. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that the products do not lead to any anti-doping rule violation.
WADA places high importance on athlete education to prevent the intentional or unintentional use by athletes of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods. We also feel this is very important and are happy to provide athletes the tools to make an informed decision before purchasing sports nutrition products. We hope the information we are providing is useful to make this decision but if you have any further questions then please get in touch with us.
Hopefully we have answered all your questions and you can use HIGH5 products in confidence. If you are still unsure then please get in touch and you can contact us directly and we can help answer any questions you may have.