NOW (Bloomingdale, IL) continued its award-winning industry self-policing program of testing unfamiliar brands found on Amazon, this time on bromelain, according to the company. The testing revealed some of the most abysmal results since the program began six years ago, the company stated. Although NOW has shared this information widely, with the goal of addressing bad quality products in the marketplace, testing shows the problem is getting worse, according to NOW.
“We chose bromelain because raw material costs increased in recent years and we guessed that some suppliers or brands may knowingly, or unknowingly, be selling low potency products,” said Dan Richard, NOW’s vice president of global sales and marketing, who has been spearheading this Amazon testing program since its beginning in 2017. “Bromelain is a fairly expensive enzyme and testing is more difficult than other basic vitamins and minerals. We assumed that most lower-priced, lesser-known brands do not test for bromelain potency at all, and the results below seem to confirm this educated guess.”
Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme found in pineapples that can support healthy digestion or joint comfort. The activity of bromelain is commonly measured in gelatin digesting units (GDU) and measures the ability of the enzyme to break down a gelatin solution. The GDU activity in the samples purchased on Amazon was determined using the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) method for bromelain. While NOW is capable of testing bromelain for GDU potency in-house, they decided to use an independent laboratory that specializes in enzyme testing. Venture Labs in Lexington, KY performed all tests.
NOW purchased 19 samples of bromelain supplements on Amazon, plus NOW’s own capsule product, to verify label claims and potencies.
- Fifteen out of 20 samples tested (75 percent) failed to meet label claims for potency. Only six out of 20 samples contained over 50 percent of labeled potency.
- Twelve out of 20 brands contained less than even 10 percent of label claim. That means more than half of all tested bromelain supplement samples contained less than one-tenth of label claims—the most egregious testing results NOW said it has seen.
- Three samples had ambiguous labeling that only claimed weight and no activity. Generally, bromelain powder has an activity of 2,400 GDU per gram, but these brands made no potency claims. Two of these product’s potencies were below the detection limit and were reported as < 10 GDU/g. The third brand, Cadane, only contained 34 GDU of Bromelain per capsule, which is extremely low potency.
- Three brands were labeled as products made in India. These brands tested to only contain 10, 34, and 78 GDU potencies, respectively. Two were under 10 percent of label claim and the third made no potency claim.
Two of the top four “sponsored” or paid advertised brands from a search on Amazon in March 2023 included the violating brands in this round of testing.
NOW intentionally did not test known “natural” or practitioner brands because these other brands typically abide by good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and full potencies are expected.
“NOW has been testing products sold by lesser-known brands for six years and consistently finds most suspect products failing potency testing,” Richard said. “We have been testing products exclusively found on Amazon, but will begin adding unknown brands found on Walmart.com in the future. We are finding that low potency products often spend the most dollars marketing on both Amazon and Walmart.com.”
For more information, visit www.nowfoods.com.