There is a lot of misconception about the percentage of protein that should be in your product – especially when it comes to turning over to the back of the packet to read the nutritional panel.
When reading the protein level per serve and per 100g the terms “as is” and/or “dry basis” next to the word ‘protein’ should be visible – the two measurements are like comparing apples with oranges – so we thought it would be best to explain it here to help educate people so that you can make informed choices about what you’re spending your hard earned dollars on and if the numbers really do add up.
Let’s get into it!
‘As is’ protein
Let’s say you had a straight pure protein powder, which has on average 87.9% protein “as is” Or “actual” protein.
What does “as is” mean?
It’s the most accurate and honest measurement. It means if you scoop out 100g of this protein it will have 87.9g of actual protein as it is in your scoop, it should be the only number for you to go off if you’re comparing two products next to each other. As there’s a moisture content in all proteins regardless of if you can see it or not, this is always going to impact the protein % as it is.
The next time you’re out shopping for protein, make sure you have a look at the Nutritional Panel for the “as is” or “actual” label, this is very important, if it doesn’t state this measurement and uses ‘ dry weight ‘ then we suggest checking into the legitimacy of the claim as dry weight isn’t a true reflection of what you’re actually about to consume.
We feel the “as is” value should be used on all labels, in NIPs (Nutrition Information Panels) and in formulations if you were trying to work out the protein content of a product.
In order to explain the other methods used, we’ve got to get a little technical so hold onto your hat.
If you take the same WPI we mentioned above and dry it at 104 C for 4 hours to remove all moisture, the protein “dry basis” will be on average 93.0% heaps higher right? simply because there is now zero moisture/water. There is no time that you should ever use or go off “dry basis’ for any reason when reading a nutritional panel. You are NOT buying a protein and drying it out for 4 hours to remove the moisture so it is irrelevant.
So you’ve got that? Make sure that the supplier of protein you’re about to consume is NOT measuring their protein count based upon “dry basis”. It’s misleading and if they are make sure you ask them for a ‘as is’ count. Technically, manufacturers are allowed to state this measurement on their packaging providing they advise its ‘dry basis’ although it’s really misleading the consumer. If you were to take that same protein which claimed ’93% dry basis protein’ and had it tested in a lab, we will guarantee it will come back with a far lower ‘as is’ protein level than advertised.
So why do companies use it?
It is believed that the origins may lie in Europe, or perhaps US tariff rules, where the dry basis was measured to determine how much tariff needed to be paid and became the industry standard.
BUT the main reason now, to put it bluntly, is for companies to exaggerate the protein content of the protein they sell – 93% (dry basis) is bigger than 87.9% (as is) – to deliberately mislead customers that use protein that their protein level is higher which gives the perception that it’s a superior product.
In defence of some protein manufacturers, they can fall victim to misleading their customers unintentionally as it’s still legal to state the dry weight protein %, it looks and sounds better on paper so why wouldn’t you make this claim if you didn’t know any better?
What does this mean for businesses trying to do the right thing by their customers?
This can put businesses into a difficult spot because if they are selling protein direct to consumers, you would think they want to do the right thing and use “as is”. But if all your business’s competitors use “dry basis” (like a 99% of the industry), you don’t want to be at a competitive disadvantage.
This is the issue PSA faces today like most businesses trying to do it the right way, a practical way around it is to state both values on your pack, but, really, the FSANZ code (what we abide by as manufacturers) makes no provision for the use of “dry basis” on labels which kinda sucks.
When PSA was first established, we were using dry basis as our form of measurement as we knew no better, however, as PSA grew so did our knowledge, our products and services, and we quickly realised that dry basis was actually not the most accurate way to state the protein percentage – through third party testing, reformulating and auditing our whole business we adjusted to the right method in a move we believe that will bring honesty and transparency to our customers which is always the best way.
So there you have it!
Make sure the next time you pick up some protein, that you read the nutritional label for this information – and if you do see “dry basis” or no information at all give them a call and let them know!
Our ethos at PSA is educating consumers to make informed choices when it comes to supplements, and we encourage you to spread this information so that others may be educated as well.