Q&A: Pure Market tests thousands of products and lists results on its site

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags Clean label Organic Labelling Dietary supplement Retailers

A newly launched platform grades thousands of popular food and household products and lists their grades. Those that score a B- or above are also sold on their site.

Pure Market said the platform was designed to empower consumers to make more informed shopping decisions based on analytical chemistry-based research culled from scientific lab testing for harmful elements such as plasticizers, pesticides, heavy metals and more.

The Denver-based company said it uses unbiased scientific analysis to test each product for as many as 400 different attributes, including industrial and environmental contaminants, pollutants, heavy metals and pesticide residues, nutrition, efficacy, and label claim accuracy. 

NutraIngredients-USA recently spoke to Tyler D’Spain, the lab director at Pure Market​, to find out about their testing methodology. 

How do you choose which products to test?

“We use the insight we receive from reports like IRI or Nielson or even by monitoring the best sellers list from retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, and Target. We occasionally supplement our lists with some of the Pure Market team member’s favorites, special requests from our shoppers, or from like-minded brands.”

Do you test foods differently than dietary supplements?

“Yes, they are tested differently. Although many of the same compounds are tested in both food and dietary supplements, the methods used must be adapted to the type of sample tested. All products are tested and benchmarked to products in the same category (food is benchmarked against other food; supplements to supplements). You wouldn’t want your dietary supplements graded against the same standard as your cleaning products, and we’ve taken this into account. Each category is unique and graded with a special algorithm, revealing brands that test either above or below the average of other brands of the same type of product.”

“It’s also important to keep in mind that food products may have a different testing battery then dietary supplements. For example, for dietary supplements, we may include testing for residual solvents which is not something we typically test for in the food category.”

From those that you have tested, how have dietary supplements done? Did you find that the labels were usually accurate?

“Many products in the dietary supplement category were accurate to their label claims. Like the majority of the categories that we’ve tested, there is a quality gradient in supplements. Many brands and products are accurately labeled and of high purity, and a handful of the products fall short of their claims or contain higher levels of contaminants. Due to the nature of many supplement ingredients, it is not uncommon to find certain supplement types that contain higher levels of contaminants, such as heavy metals. We publish the raw data for each category on the website.”

Most surprising findings? 

“The most surprising thing we find is that sometimes marketing around “pure” and “clean” is just that -- marketing puffery. As consumers ourselves, we sometimes walk into the testing process with preconceptions on “quality” brands. Sometimes, once the blinded data is complete, we find our preconceptions were wrong. For example, when we tested pet food, there were brands that were positioned in the marketplace as top-of-the-line that performed poorly relative to the rest of the industry.”

Do you inform the manufacturers if the pass or fail your testing?

“Generally speaking, manufacturers are notified of our testing the same way as everyone else -- when we post results on our website. We undertake the category testing on our own to protect the impartiality of our process -- that way consumers can trust that no brand or manufacturer had their thumb on the scale.”

Pure Market has a select number of graded products available for sale on the site. In the coming months, the company said it will continue to expand its product and brand offerings, and more products will be available for purchase across all categories including baby, food and beverage, household cleaning, health and fitness, personal care and pet food.

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