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[Report] Makers Of Quest Bars Sued Over Mislabeling; Allegedly Overstated Fiber By More Than 750%

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Every fitness junkie LOVES Quest Bars. They’re this generation’s PowerBar. With a stacked lineup of vibrant flavors, solid taste, and a nutrition profile that’s beyond impressive — one that’s pumped with 20g of protein, 16-19g of fiber, only 180 calories, and zero added sugar — they’re an all-around powerhouse.1

Quest Bars even ranked all the way the way up at #1 in our Protein Bar Power Rankings; representing a clean little oasis within a landscape that’s notoriously dirty. They look stellar on paper (or, on the label).

What you probably don’t know is that Quest Nutrition and GNC are currently being sued over mislabeling issues with Quest Bars. Specifically, it’s alleged that their fiber content is overstated by anywhere from 50% to 10x the actual amount; and that calories are understated by at least 20%. The full transcript of the lawsuit is available here, but here’s the snippet that’s relevant:

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So you’ve been gobbling down Quest Bars in good conscience and currently have 16 cases stacked high in your closet. It has ALL of the makings of a Seinfeld Non-Fat Frozen Yogurt situation. What’s your play?

Breathe. Don’t jump on a treadmill for 3 hours or throw your Quest Bars into a dumpster fire. This changes nothing.


 

Our Take on the Quest Bar Lawsuit


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Nobody knows anything definitively. And I won’t pretend like we do. The President of Quest Nutrition also disputed the lawsuit head on, here. But again, that’s his word against the plaintiff’s.

What we do know is that ConsumerLab, an independent testing agency, tested the nutritional content in Quest’s Banana Nut Muffin unprompted. The results? Everything including calorie and fiber content — was identical to Quest Bar labels. 2

That’s a HUGE plus, which leads to a likely explanation. Quest Bars use a number of innovative ingredients to magically balance robust flavor with stellar nutritional content. Sometimes the use of cutting-edge ingredients can outpace testing methods. It’s highly possible that testing procedures used in many labs can’t accurately detect and measure newer fiber variants, specifically isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMOs), that make up a huge chunk of Quest Bars. Some labs don’t even know how to test for IMOs, yet. That would explain the discrepancy between the plaintiff’s test results and those provided by Quest + ConsumerLab.34

But let’s pretend for second, hypothetically, that the claims ARE true. Even then, it doesn’t change my opinion of Quest Bars AT ALL from a nutritional PoV (ethics aside).

The primary claim is a drastic overstatement of fiber content. Personally, I eat Quest bars — and I believe most others do, too — because they’re a clean, HQ protein delivery mechanism. The fiber is a nice little added bonus; like the sprinkles on top of a decadent red velvet cupcake. But they have so many other strong pluses — low sugar, HQ protein content, extremely clean ingredients, and a stevia sweetened line — that even if you cut the fiber down from 17g to 5g, they’d still be marginally better than almost every other protein bar anyway.

And if you’re worried about a potentially *unthinkable* 20% jump in calories, it’s a net increase from 170 to 204 per bar. 34 calories. Gasp.

The Bottom Line: Keep your Quest Bars and continue eating them without thinking twice about it.

*Disclaimer: Lean It Up has no direct financial relationship with Quest Nutrition.

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.

 
 

References, Notes, Links

  1. Quest Bar Nutrition Facts []
  2. ConsumerLab — Nutrition Bar, incl. Quest Bars, test results []
  3. Dietary Fiber Testing Methods — Current Status and Ongoing Discussion []
  4. Medallion Labs — Dietary Fiber []

 

  • http://1opinionatedwoman.blogspot.com/ Marsha S. Haneiph

    Good grief, I had my first Quest bar this week and totally fell in love with it. However, you’re quite right. I had it for the protein, not the fibre.

  • Protein Bar Guy

    The Quest Bar craze is driven by their claims for low sugar and low “Active Carbs”. There are hundreds of high protein bars on the market. Fiber is not the issue. It is “Active carbs”! I too believe their labeling is false. Brian, I think in the interest of full disclosure you need to tell people they are a big advertiser on this site. You are not impartial on this topic.

    • http://LeanItUP.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      Per the disclaimer, we have no direct financial relationship with Quest nor any financial interest in Quest as a company.

      Any Quest ads served are via Google and various other advertising networks — they’re simply displayed automatically based on your own search history and the context of the page.

  • Snarky Marky

    ConsumerLab shouldn’t just test one bar. After having many of their different flavored bars, I’m a little concerned about what the ingredients going into each unique bar (for example, strawberry cheesecake). How do they give each bar that unique flavor? It’s strawberries en masse and cheesecake, it (I assume) has to be artificial flavorings. When they have 20-30 different flavors (and the textures are so different as well). It does make me question the ingredients going into Quest.

    • http://LeanItUP.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      I wish they tested the whole line, but testing is extremely expensive so they typically keep it to one flavor/brand.

      For the most part I believe that the ingredient profile accurately represents what’s in their bars (eg almonds + apples + cinnamon in Apple Pie; almonds + cocoa butter + cocoa powder + coconut oil in Cookies and Cream). But then again, every bar does have a “natural flavors” ingredient byline which is a huge question mark.

      Plus, keep in mind that there’s some combo of stevia + lo han guo + erythritol + sucralose (splenda) in every bars. That’s A LOT of added sweetness coming directly from low-calorie sweeteners.

  • wes

    I agree that fiber is an added bonus, but the main reason I eat Quest, over the other bars, is the “active” carbs. If fiber content goes down, the active carbs go way up, pretty much destroying any low carb diet. If there were any alternatives, I would switch, but there are none. All the others that claim to be low carb contain Maltitol (sweetner), which has similar effect as sugar on your body. I sure hope they figure out how to test these IMOs

    • http://LeanItUP.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      Shakes are definitely your best option — even over the best bar — both from a nutritional and low-carb PoV. They’re a lot cleaner and there are a ton of options with minimal crap added.

  • Azure

    Does anyone know how this lawsuit is panning out, or is it too early to tell?

    • http://LeanItUP.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      I haven’t been able to find anything — it’ll likely take months to play out and close. If/when news comes out, I’ll pass it along.

  • Cynna

    I am a Type 1 diabetic who eats an extremely low carb diet (ketogenic) who is also pregnant with twins. Because I am pregnant, it is absolutely essential to have perfect blood sugar levels to prevent miscarriage and birth defects, which is why I eat the way I do (it is the only way I can control my blood sugar levels). I tried 2 quest bars for the first time last night after 6.5 hours of fasting (my last meal had been ground beef and mashed cauliflower). The total net carbs of both bars combined was 7. I gave my insulin accordinglingly. Within 1 hour, I began to feel ill. I tested and found that my blood sugar level had shot up to 3 times the normal level, putting my babies’ lives at risk. I immediately gave a massive dose of insulin to correct the blood sugar levels but have been up all night to test my blood sugar and make sure that no further problems ensue. I have not had any other blood sugar problems this entire pregnancy due to eating a clean, low carb diet. I am sickened literally and physically that I believed the labels on the Quest bars. There is absolutely no way that there is the high amount of fiber in those bars that Quest claims there is. If there was, I would have been a normal blood sugar level just like I am after every other meal that I have. Since there isn’t the amount of fiber that they claim, the total carb count and not the net carb count is more accurate. This isn’t such a big deal, perhaps, for others who have a working pancreas but for my babies, who are dependent on me, this literally put their lives at risk. Needless, to say, I’m a little upset right now.

    • Jo

      Not to sound insensitive, but who on earth gambles the lives of their babies on the label of a packaged good? Are you crazy? They even say their fiber is partially soluble, thus having some impact on your blood sugar level. Plus, some of them contain sugar alcohols that have been known to have effect on sugar levels too. You should be more cautious rather than blame outwardly…

      • Cynna

        Well, you do sound pretty self-righteous and judgmental. I’m glad you knew that soluble fiber has an impact on blood sugar, but I didn’t (I certainly do now). Congratulations. I also didn’t know that sugar alcohols “have been known to have effect on sugar levels.” Again, I do now. That is my whole point. Their labels do not reflect that–that is the whole point of labeling something, and most people rely on and trust labels to provide them with accurate information (I don’t anymore!) If I had any hint whatsoever that this would cause a problem, I would not have eaten them. If you know that something will cause a problem and you do it anyways, then you are being irresponsible, but I honestly didn’t know. It was an honest mistake based on false information.

  • John William Dale III

    The micronutrients say there are about 230 calories for 1 bar. Just add up the protein carb and fat. Carb =4 cals. Protein =4 calories. Fat = 9 calories.
    They just have the calories messed up. Nothing to freak out about

  • Chris Morris

    John, fiber calories are less than normal carb calories, that makes up the difference.

  • Roy S.

    What are they using to balance out the chemical crapfest they’re creating by including sucralose in these food-like products?

  • Salesmodel

    I love them. They knock me out of ketosis even when I eat about 40-60% of the bar though. Which makes me wierded out. But I AM a tall 120 pound girl who gets heart arrythmnia from a single cup of regular coffee, so. I digress that its heightened impact shouldnt be a surprise

  • Josie

    They cause my son that has type 1 Diabeties a very high blood sugar rise , has to take quite a gt of insulin for it , he could eat a big salad at zaxbys without the bread for the same amount of insulin

  • Kristen Rae Wyre

    The fiber in these Quest bars is not a “nice little added bonus.” You are confusing soluble fiber with insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber (in Quest Bars) interferes with the absorption of carbs/sugars. Insoluble fiber, which is what you call an added bonus, is a bulking agent. It helps those of us who need a little bowel help… It’s the presence of soluble fiber in Quest bars that allow them to advertise, “Only 3 Net Carbs” because 14 or so carbs/sugars in the Quest bar are not absorbed in the body due to the presence of soluble fiber. Fewer carbs/sugars equals a leaner body. So it is a BIG DEAL if their fiber numbers are off by 750%.