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Industry Response

The industry took exception to the report for a number of reasons. The substances tested in the report ''are naturally occurring in the environment," according to a statement issued by Greg Pickett, founder of CytoSport, which makes Muscle Milk. ''It would be uncommon, if not impossible, not to detect the trace amounts reportedly found in any agricultural product, such as dairy products, fruits and vegetables."

In the statement, Pickett notes that the two Muscle Milk products that Consumer Reports says have high levels of contaminants were both analyzed by NSF International, an independent organization that sets product standards, and found to pass.

Michelle L. Zendah, a spokeswoman for Abbott Nutrition, which makes Myoplex protein shakes, issued this statement: "There is no safety risk from the trace levels of cadmium and arsenic in our Myoplex protein shakes. Our quality testing shows the level of these elements is below all current, well-established safety standards, including those from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Consumers can continue to use Myoplex shakes with confidence."

A Nutrition Expert's Perspective

Protein is important in the diet, but you don’t need the protein drinks to get enough, says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

She recommends people turn to natural food sources primarily. "Don't rely on these [protein drinks] heavily to be your primary protein source in your diet. Look to dairy, meats, and beans and some whole grains to provide protein."

Turning to food rather than protein drinks is easier on your health and your wallet, according to Consumer Reports.

To get a rough idea of daily protein needs, the researchers say, multiply your body weight by 0.4. Athletes generally are advised to eat a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.

So a 120-pound person in general would need about 48 grams and a 180-pound person would need 72 grams. Most Americans surpass that, getting 82 grams a day, according to government surveys.

Good sources of protein include half a chicken breast (27 grams), three scrambled eggs (20 grams), or three 8-ounce glasses of milk (23 grams). A scoop of Nitro-Tech powder, in comparison, has 25 grams.

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