Are you going to buy supplements? or did you just received some? Ah…The same old doubt and fear about fake supplements are crawling up your mind again, right?
I find myself at your place every 5th of the month when I have to re-stack. I guess, that fear never goes away. But the doubt can if you know how to identify fake supplements. Today. I have listed down the steps I use to check the authenticity of my supplements.
But first, let’s understand why supplements have a bad reputation in India? Reason being, there is a lot of duplicity in the market.
Why is there duplicity?
Simply because of the fact, duplicate material costs cheap and the selling prices for supplements are high. Therefore, there is a huge margin. The supplement industry is a billion-dollar industry. So the black market operators find it very lucrative owing to the huge margins. The darker side of this industry operates at large in India. To keep ourselves healthy and to not waste our money, we have to become a smart buyer.
How do we do that?
Let’s have a look-
How to identify fake supplements?
Follow these steps-
This is the most important. You need to have a good eye for details. First, check for spelling errors. Second, match every other detail [Ingredients, tag line, product name, font, colours] from the official website of the product on your product. Check whether the logo is correct or not.
Another important thing to check is the manufacturing date. The date should be valid and correct. A 2021 mfd in 2019 is fishy and a sign of fake supplement. Be thorough in this process. If any written part or picture on the product is wrong. Then you definitely have a wrong supplement. Get it changed ASAP.
Majority of the supplements in India are imported. Because the brands do not do it themselves. There are middlemen/importers who bring the product in India. These importers place their stickers on the product to authenticate that the product is original and imported by them.
To be a 100% sure, check the product’s official website for the brand certified importers for every country. Then on your supplement check if it is one of the importers as mentioned on that website or not.
These importer stickers will generally have MRP, Importers’s hologram, logo, batch number, manufacturing and expiry date. You can contact the importers, tell them your batch number to authenticate the product. Here is a list of importers of some brands.
If it is a made in India supplement, you will find scratch codes on the seal or the outer packaging. From there you can authenticate the product genuineness as well. A lot of company provide lot number verification. It could be through an SMS, website or call.
The black market operators are no fool. They might use a genuine box and tamper with the inside of the product. Seal check will ensure if the supplement has been tampered with or not.
A supplement product usually has two seals. One is the outer seal and the second the inner seal. The outer seal covers the lid of the supplement and the inner seal is what you encounter after you open the lid.
This is an outer seal
This is an inner seal.
If you cannot find one of the seals then supplement has been tampered with. The outer seal is usually very tight for some products. In some cases, it even has a hologram and brand name on it. In some supplements, it has been noticed the outer seal is pretty basic and generally weak. Majority of them will have the former. Once you have broken the outer seal and opened the lid. You will encounter the inner seal. An adulterated supplement will have an open or loosely attached seal. A genuine product will have the seal uniformly attached on all sides. Seals generally have the product brand name endorsed on them. A loosely attached plain seal may be a signal of a counterfeit supplement.
Bar/ QR code
Download a QR scanner on your phone. Most of the phones today have an inbuilt scanner. Scan the barcode or QR code provided on the product [supplement]. The result should take you to the supplement [you ordered ]related information. If the result does not point in the right direction, get it changed ASAP.
The best thing about this step- This method can be performed at a supplement shop itself and if you have any doubts you can leave the product right there. If you ordered it online and it is sitting in your laps and the result is unusual. Contact the importer and get it changed.
Taste, texture & mixability
This should be your last step. If you have previously used the same brand but it tastes different now. Check for if the company changed the formula or not. If they did, then a changed taste is a possibility. If not, you should get your supplement changed. It might be a fake supplement.
Supplements like glutamine and creatine are tasteless. So conducting a taste test on them is useless. If your supplement tastes funky i.e. it stinks, or have a very sour taste. It might be a fake supplement.
If a supplement does not taste anywhere close to the flavour mentioned, it can be a fake. Maybe ask your friend or a family member just to have a sip and check if it tastes as per the flavour or not. If you have doubts, just return the product and ask for a change. Never take risks with your health. Although, a taste test is not the most reliable way of checking as taste varies from person to person.
Supplements like protein powders mix well. If after a thorough shake, your supplement is leaving a lot of lumps or is not getting mixed at all. Then you have a fake supplement in your hand. Get it changed.
After you are done deciding if you need to buy a supplement or not. The next step is to buy one. But then there is a fear of fake supplements. Listed above are steps to ensure you whether your product is genuine or not.
You will find a variety of different tests to identify fake supplements as well. The ones mentioned above are the best and most trusted ones. I have personally bought tons of supplements by checking them through the above-mentioned steps. Luckily, I have never encountered a fake supplement. Once you start buying supplements and using them. And you get old at buying them [After your 4-5 purchases], you will get a fair idea on how to distinguish a fake from real. Experience plays a role here. But anyone can get duped.
Always, make sure to run all these steps when you are purchasing supplements. It is upon us to not waste our money and compromise on our health. We have to become a smart buyer. The black market operator will not just disappear someday. They will keep on working and smuggling the fake supplements in the market. We have to become a smart buyer until the respective authorities take the necessary action.
If there are any other tests that have helped you identify fake supplements. Mention them in the comment. Let’s help each other out. Tell us your ways in the comments below.