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Most Top-Selling Collagen Peptide 'Health Food' Products Test Positive for Heavy Metals


May 13, 2020


Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul,; 207-653-3090

Clean Label Project: Jaclyn Bowen,; 734-678-9871 


64 Percent of top-selling products contain arsenic, according to report by Organic Consumers Association and Clean Label Project 

FINLAND, Minn. -  Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Clean Label Project (CLP) today released a new report revealing that many of the top-selling collagen peptide supplements sold on contain measurable levels of heavy metals.

Organic Consumers Association and Clean Label Project used the bestsellers list and Clean Label Project 2018’s protein powder investigation results as sources for the 28 products chosen for the study. Product samples were procured from local, national and online retailers using Clean Label Project’s Consumer Chain of Custody and Sampling Methodology. 

Key findings include:

64% tested positive for measurable levels of arsenic

37% tested positive for measurable levels of lead

34% tested positive for trace levels of mercury

17% tested positive for measurable levels of cadmium

“Consumers buy collagen products largely for the perceived health benefits, not realizing that many of these products are derived from industrial factory farms which have been identified as sources of heavy metals,” said Katherine Paul, OCA’s associate director. “With product claims like ‘Pure,’ ‘All Natural’ and ‘Cleanest nutrition possible,’ it’s no wonder consumers are fooled.”

“The unfortunate reality is the quantity of certified organic and pasture-raised animals in the US is dwarfed by the number of animals raised under industrial factory farming production methods,” said Jaclyn Bowen, food safety and quality systems engineer and executive director of Clean Label Project. “We hope this is a call-to-action for consumers to demand better from collagen brands and for brands, in turn, to establish minimum humane and heavy metals standards for products purporting to be ‘natural’.”

According to a 2014 study, “Heavy Metals Toxicity and the Environment,” heavy metals, even at low levels, are known to cause organ damage, and some are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer as known or probable carcinogens.

Animals in factory farms are exposed to heavy metals via GMO feed grown with pesticides and fertilizers containing heavy metals, and through water contaminated by the animals' manure.

Citing public health concerns, the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently called for a moratorium on Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Among the reasons cited by the APHA report was this: CAFOs annually generate an estimated 575 billion pounds of animal manure containing antibiotics, pathogen bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as dust, mold, bacterial endotoxins and volatile gases—and heavy metals. 

CAFOs are also under fire for promoting conditions that have led to thousands of workers in U.S. slaughterhouses being infected with COVID-19. And health officials warn that CAFOs are potential breeding grounds for future pandemics.

For testing, OCA and CLP used independent laboratories accredited to test for total arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. The method used for testing was the Environmental Protection Agency Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (EPA 6020A, 3015). The Level of Quantification for the testing was 8 parts per billion. 



Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots organization advocating on behalf of millions of consumers for safe, healthful food and a clean environment. Visit:

Clean Label Project is a national nonprofit with the mission to bring truth and transparency to consumer product labeling. To learn more, visit