Life’s Basic Plant Protein and Proposition 65

LIfes Basic Chocolate and VanillaLife’s Basic Plant Protein has been my go-to protein powder for almost a year.

After researching several brands, I decided on this one because it has a combination of pea, hemp, rice, and chia seed protein, and has an excellent nutritional makeup for the amount of calories per serving:

LIfes Basic Nutrition Info

I even talked my mom into trying some, so I went ahead and ordered 2 jars of it from Amazon.  However, when they arrived, I noticed a sticker on top of the jar with a startling message:

Proposition 65 Warning: California Consumers – This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

I felt like Karen from Will and Grace: “QUA–?”

Reproductive harm?

I hadn’t even heard of Proposition 65 prior to this.  I looked it up, and found this:

In 1986, California voters approved an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. That initiative became the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known by its original name of Proposition 65. Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.

Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water.

I researched Proposition 65 and examined the nutritional information from Life’s Basic Plant Protein.  Californians in the blog world have stated that they are used to seeing this sign posted in most restaurants, food aisles, parking garages, etc.  I found a reviewer on Amazon who, like me, did some research and found this statement from the supplement manufacturer NutriBiotic:

Nearly all foods contain certain levels of one or more of the following: arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Ironically, the amounts established by Proposition 65 are less than what occurs naturally in numerous fruits, vegetables and water. The Proposition 65 standards are so tough that the following natural products are in violation of Proposition 65:

Yams, turnips, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, corn, and many, many more fruits and vegetables. For instance, carrots contain 12.80 micrograms of arsenic in a one cup serving; green beans contain 28.75 micrograms of lead in a one cup serving, 56 times the allowable limit!

The limits established by Proposition 65 are as follows:

Arsenic: 10 micrograms
Cadmium: 4.1 micrograms
Lead: 0.5 micrograms
Mercury: 0.3 micrograms
Vitamin products containing all natural ingredients are naturally going to contain these substances.

Evidence indicates that any of the above that may be present is there only as a result of the environmental conditions in which vegetables are grown, and thus occur naturally in the products.”

The only conclusion I could draw was that the Proposition 65 warning stems from the fact that the ingredients in Life’s Basic are not organic, and likely contain some of the dangerous substances on their list.

Then, I looked at their Amino Acid Profile:

Screen shot 2013-01-28 at 1.42.51 PM

I am not a nutritionist or food coach, or doctor, but the only other red flag on the Life’s Basic ingredient list that I could see was the high level of Glutamic Acid.  According to Livestrong (not exactly a credible source for dangerous substances, but there you have it), too much Glutamic Acid can build up to toxic levels in your brain and cause neuron damage!

As I said, I haven’t asked me doctor about this, but it scared me nonetheless.  I’ll have to comb through the ingredients of my next protein powder with a fine-toothed comb.  I tweeted Kenny Steil who recommended Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder, which I think I will try next.

What do you think?  Can you recommend a good vegan protein powder without any scary labels? 

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Categories: Health

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3 replies

  1. Apparently, proposition 65 has very very strict limitations- so strict, in fact, that naturally grown fruits and vegetables sometimes don’t make the cut because of some naturally occurring substances in them. This is a quote from an Amazon post on pea protein explaining the subject:
    _________________________________

    “On last month’s shipment I noticed a small label that is stuck on to the back of the product, a California Prop 65 warning. The label reads, “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Naturally, I was alarmed. Living in California, I’m used to seeing this warning tacked up in most restaurants, canned food aisles, and parking garages. However, I never expected it to be on my precious plant protein powder. “It’s so hard being vegan, there really is no winning no matter what you do,” I thought to myself. I then stowed my violin and did some research.

    I noticed the handful of panic-stricken reviews here on Amazon, unhappy customers citing the Prop 65 label as a sure sign that Jarrow must care nothing about our health and may in fact intend to kill us. Further research yielded the following, taken from the website of a company called NutriBiotic, a supplement manufacturer:

    “Nearly all foods contain certain levels of one or more of the following: arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Ironically, the amounts established by Proposition 65 are less than what occurs naturally in numerous fruits, vegetables and water. The Proposition 65 standards are so tough that the following natural products are in violation of Proposition 65:

    Yams, turnips, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, corn, and many, many more fruits and vegetables. For instance, carrots contain 12.80 micrograms of arsenic in a one cup serving; green beans contain 28.75 micrograms of lead in a one cup serving, 56 times the allowable limit!

    The limits established by Proposition 65 are as follows:

    Arsenic: 10 micrograms
    Cadmium: 4.1 micrograms
    Lead: 0.5 micrograms
    Mercury: 0.3 micrograms
    Vitamin products containing all natural ingredients are naturally going to contain these substances.

    Evidence indicates that any of the above that may be present is there only as a result of the environmental conditions in which vegetables are grown, and thus occur naturally in the products.”

    So, since the Jarrow protein is manufactured and distributed in California, it must carry the warning. A bag of rice or a bunch of apples might as well have the same label, from what I gather. Construe this information however you see fit, for me, my initial fears have been put to rest and I can get back to making my protein shakes.”

    ________________

    So don’t be too worried!

  2. FYI, Not one plant based meal supplement powder sold in the state of California could be sold without a warning label!!!! It does not mean it is harmful! 39.5g serving size of most any plant based product will exceed the limit of 0.5mcg of lead, but so will an extremely healthy diet of organic base foods because lead is found in the earth’s crust. Ironically you can buy most all synthetic food supplements that meet Prop 65because they are void of ant heavy metals that come naturally from the earth. Again, because it has a warning label DOES NOT mean it is harmful!!!

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