With city residents getting more health conscious, protein supplements used to gain mass have become popular.
While there is some legitimate distribution, an unorganised industry of questionable products has also surfaced for these supplements. This is beyond the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and these products are sold over-the-counter at pharmacies.
Though a majority of youngsters are tech-savvy and prefer to purchase these supplements from the internet, many rely on the neighbourhood retail stores and pharmacies to buy cheaper versions.
A retailer in Surajpur claimed that he sourced protein supplements from the Navyug Market in Ghaziabad. “I sold 4-5 supplements till a few months ago, but now I sell around 20 bottles weighing 1 kg each every month,” said Vinod, salesman at the Rathi Medical Stores.
Nearly eight such pharmacies are located along a single stretch in Surajpur alone. Several such stores are also located in some sectors of Noida, Ghaziabad and the Trans-Hindon Area.
In a market near Nayee Basti in Ghaziabad, several wholesalers sell nearly 200-300 containers of supplements every month. However, none of them was willing to disclose their names nor of the manufacturer.
Vinod Sharma, a trader in Navyug Market, said, “These supplements are quite expensive. But when youngsters get to know that cheaper brands are available, they buy these without checking the ingredients.”
Meanwhile, protein supplements also have their drawbacks.
Abhishek Chaudhary, former U-17 cricket player for Uttar Pradesh, said, “I have been working out for several years and my diet was always under supervision. Gym instructors insist on using weight-gain supplements for quick results. However, the liver and kidney cannot produce enough hormones to break down additional proteins beyond 30 gm per day. I don’t use these supplements.”
AK Jaiswal, food inspector, Gautam Budh Nagar district, said, “We do hear about such illicit products but unless the manufacturers are based in the district, I can’t do much. The sale of these products continues unchecked as the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India has allowed retailers to sell these products without a licence till February 2014.”