ConsumerLab is run by scientists who are listed publicly on their site, but not much is known about LabDoor. The purpose of this review is to examine and analyze whether LabDoor is a reputable source of information for consumers looking to make informed decisions about their supplements.
Labdoor’s About Us page doesn’t mention a single member of the company. This is a red flag because credentials and transparency matter for a consumer testing service. Testing supplements for label accuracy and purity is complex.
Even though Labdoor claims to send off products to an “FDA-registered laboratory,” if there is no credentialed scientist with an advanced degree on their staff it’s unclear how they determine what to test against (more on that later).
A California Secretary of State Corporations search reveals that the President of Labdoor is named Neil Thanedar. His website describes how he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and how he co-founded a product development and testing laboratory that was later acquired.
It's a good thing that Labdoor's founder has some relevant educational and entrepreneurial experience, but we would hope that there would be people on his team with more advanced degrees like PhDs.
Labdoor's scoring has 5 categories: Label Accuracy, Product Purity, Nutritional Value, Ingredient Safety, and Projected Efficacy.
There's a separate "Labdoor Score" for the product which is not simply the average of these scores, and it's not explained anywhere how they weight the categories for overall scoring. It seems as though they pick the overall score randomly.
This leads to confusing results like for this Pure Science brand supplement which has a Labdoor Score of 93.6 but a label accuracy score of 9/100. How can a product get a fantastic overall score without being accurately labeled? Your guess is as good as ours.
Labdoor Testing Methodology (or Lack Thereof)
Here’s where things get weird. First, Labdoor publishes none of the actual test result documents or the specific laboratories that conduct the testing. Their rankings make zero sense to anyone with even a college-level understanding of nutritional science or manufacturing.
Their review of One A Day Men’s VitaCraves multivitamin is a perfect example. It gives the product a “Label Accuracy” score of 32 out of 100, which as a consumer sounds alarming. It sounds as though the product doesn’t have what it claims on the Supplement Facts label. But when you read their “Report” (you’ll need to create a free account to do so), you see that the multivitamin in fact has all of the listed vitamins in slight excess of the label claim.
Labdoor apparently deducts points for companies with slight overages in nutrient levels, not understanding that a manufacturing overage is very common (especially with supplements) to ensure that the label claim is satisfactorily met. This means that if you’re manufacturing a product with 1000 mg of Vitamin C, you actually manufacture, say, 1100 mg of Vitamin C to ensure that even if some is lost during the physical manufacturing process, or degrades over time, the finished product still meets the Supplement Facts label claim.
Let’s take another, even crazier example of how little sense their rankings make. Labdoor has since removed this review since our documentation of it below.
Below is a screenshot of a review of a product called NOW Foods Panax Ginseng. It’s assigned a Label Accuracy score of 0. Again, to any rational consumer this would indicate that the product does not have any of the active ingredient(s). However their own report proves exactly the opposite. The product has 10.7 mg of ginsenoside (which is the active phytochemical in ginseng) based on their testing.
Labdoor gives the product a Label Accuracy rank of 0 because “This product claims 1000 mg of ginseng root extract per serving but does not specify its ginsenoside content.”
So basically Labdoor is saying: “this is ginseng but not standardized ginseng so we’re going to give it an accuracy score of zero.” But the product’s label doesn’t make the claim that it’s standardized -- it’s a generic extract!
The label claims that the product is ginseng. Labdoor’s test confirms that the product is ginseng. The label accuracy score should be 100. It’s unclear why the Label Accuracy ranking is based on an arbitrary phytochemical level and not, you know, whether the label is accurate or not. Our guess is a woeful lack of understanding of the science behind supplement formulation, and the fact that Labdoor has since removed this review from their site furthers our conviction of this.
No Testing Dates
Labdoor seems to have removed all of the information about testing dates and lot numbers for the companies that haven't participated in their Labdoor certification program. This is likely due to the fact that regular testing is expensive, but it makes the data worthless in our opinion.
Most of the rankings have a section headed "Key Data" with results for label accuracy and purity. There is no date listed, so the testing could have been completed 10 years ago for all we know.
Supplement companies regularly manufacture new batches of product, and change their internal quality standards and processes, so testing data from years past isn't necessarily useful and doesn't necessarily represent the qualities of the products being sold today.