Are you really informed?February 2022 February 2022 Share Link Close share Copy link Whether you want to boost your athletic performance or replenish your body with extra nutrients after an intense workout session, it is always important to know what you put into your body. Irrespective of what your goals are, people add supplements to their diets to prepare for exercise, help with recovery and decrease their chances of injury. If you are a professional athlete, you would know that consuming banned substances could mean the end of your career. With so many things at stake, how do you really know that the products that you consume are safe? WHAT IS INFORMED CHOICE? Informed Choice is an independent quality assurance programme that tests dietary supplements for any banned ingredients or substances. This programme can be used as an indication that the supplements that you consume have been manufactured according to international, recognised standards, limiting the likelihood of consuming unsafe and prohibited substances. The Informed Choice certification was established in 2007 to minimise the risk of dietary and sports supplements inadvertently being contaminated with potentially harmful substances. WHY SHOULD SUPPLEMENTS BE TESTED? According to Informed Choice, as many as 1 in 10 supplements may be contaminated with prohibited ingredients or compounds. What does this mean for athletes who consume supplements? Even though the contamination may be present at a very low concentration, the levels could be enough to generate a positive drug test. This could mean that if you are a professional athlete, your urine sample may show evidence of taking steroids or banned stimulants, which could have a life changing effect on your career. IF I DON’T SEE A BANNED SUBSTANCE ON THE LABEL, IS IT SAFE? This is a common mistake that has resulted in the suspension of athletes. Prohibited substances may appear on the label, but under a different name than stated on the list. It is therefore important to research each ingredient. Some raw materials may have low levels of naturally occurring steroidal compounds, which are found in some herbal ingredients. It is recommended to only use products that have been tested for banned substances through a third party, such as Informed Choice. INFORMED CHOICE AND USN PRODUCTS USN regularly sends various products to Informed Choice for testing. As part of this initiative, the Bluelab 100% Whey protein has been tested and certified by Informed Choice as being safe to use. This means that Bluelab 100% Whey can be used by professional athletes and school children without any potential problems. HFL BATCH TESTING USN also further batch tests a wide range of products, especially products supplied to professional athletes, sports teams and schools. These supplements are certified to ensure that they are free from any banned substances and contaminants. The tested supplements are stored securely with strict access controls and sent from storage directly to the elite teams and individuals. Some of the professionals that trust USN with their supplements include Orlando Pirates Football Club, Tuks Rugby, University of the Free State Shimlas, the Free State Cheetahs and the Pumas Rugby Union. Some of the schools that trust USN with their supplements are Grey College Secondary School, Stellenberg High School, Paarl Boys’ High School and Waterkloof. Do you want to know if the supplements that you consume are safe? Search for the brand, product type or batch on Informed Choice’s website.