After the recent salmonella outbreak in Garden of Life raw organic meal replacement products, like a lot of people, I started wondering whether meal replacement shakes were as healthy and safe I thought they were. Especially when this meal shake is on my recommended meal replacement shakes for weight loss. Sure, they are great for weight loss but, if they could make a person sick, it might be the risks are not worth the benefits.
So, I did some research and did a lot of reading and came to the conclusion that, yes, meal replacements are safe but it’s worth taking some additional precautions to make them even safer. After all, if you can reduce the already low risks to virtually zero, that’s got to be a good thing, right?!
These are my tips for choosing a safe and healthy meal replacement shake…
1) Pick respected brands that have been in existence for a long time
Big brand names are heavily scrutinized by authorities like the FDA and the CDC. Their products have been around for years and have been tested, tested, and tested again. For a supplement company to survive a long time in a very competitive market, they HAVE to adhere to some very high manufacturing standards. If they didn’t, they’d have closed a long time ago.
2) Pick products with good user reviews
Other users will soon tell you if the product you are thinking if buying is good or not. Amazon.com is a GREAT place to get unbiased and truthful reviews and their star rating system makes it really easy to see whether the meal replacement you are considering is good or bad.
Look for products with AT LEAST 60% 5-star reviews and also read some of the comments – both good and bad – so you can make an informed decision before purchasing.
3) Search the FDA for your product
If a product is in anyway suspect, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will probably know about it. Check that your intended purchase does not appear on the FDA recall list. If it does, contact the seller and let them know – and do not purchase it until you can verify your meal replacement shake is safe i.e. comes from a new, untainted batch.
4) Store and use your meal replacement shake properly
Even a healthy meal replacement shake can become unhealthy under certain circumstances. Keep your meal replacement safe by:
- Making sure the lid is replaced tightly between uses
- Storing your meal replacement in a cool place
- Keeping the serving scoop clean
- Washing your hands before making your meal replacement
- Keeping your blender clean and washing between uses
- Using antibacterial detergent and hand wash
- Washing fruits and vegetables before adding them to your smoothies
- Using fresh, clean water – preferably filtered
- Storing your made up meal replacement in a clean, sealed container
- Using your meal replacement powder before its expiry date
In many cases, the health problems associated with meal replacements are not the fault of the product but how it is used and stored so make sure you do all that can to preserve the healthfulness of the meal replacement products you buy.
5) Choose a product that I have reviewed for you!
Whenever I recommend a meal replacement shake, “Best meal replacement shakes for weight loss“, or protein powder,”Choosing the best protein powder“, I do a lot of research and go though most if not all of the steps I’ve outlined above. I check, check, and check again before I am happy to give a product the Sarah-seal-of-approval. I do this so you don’t have to but you are, of course, welcome to do your own checks as well. I wouldn’t recommend a product that was unsafe because I use these products too!
Many review sites just regurgitate review from other sites – often word for word. They don’t buy and use the products they are reviewing and some sites even just hire writers to write their reviews for them.
Days to Fitness is different. I review and write everything myself and directly create all the content. You can trust me – I really do believe in these products and have tried and tested them myself so you can choose the best ones for your needs.
Even with all these checks in place, sometimes things go wrong and a batch of tainted products make it out of the factory and into stores. Given the volume of meal replacement shakes that are made and sold, this is all but unavoidable.
It’s important to remember though that, despite scary terms like “outbreak” being used in the media, the reality is that only a very small number of products are contaminated and unsafe and the risks are the same as for any other food you’d buy in the supermarket.
In the recent Garden of Life Raw meal replacement problem, of the tens of thousands of products made a sold, only 33 people were affected by salmonella. Despite this very small number of suffers, entire batches of products across various ranges were recalled to further minimize the risks. You have more chance of winning the lottery than being ill because of meal replacements!
So, do I still use meal replacements? You bet! I’ve even bought Garden for Life products and suffered no ill-effects whatsoever. So long as you choose good quality products and use them properly, meal replacement shakes are safe. While nothing is ever 100% safe, meal replacements are about 99.99999% safe so really, you have nothing to worry about.
I found your site while researching meal replacement shakes and I have found it to be very informative I am a 52 yr. old male I exercise regularly and I’m in pretty good shape except for high blood pressure. Exercising is my escape and I really enjoy it and I am contemplating turning it up a notch with meal replacements to lose weight in hopes to get my blood work / pressure under control or eliminated. Other than consulting my doctor do you have any recommendations for someone like me starting a program like this? Thanks!
Thanks for your comment. I’m not a doctor nor trying to be one on the internet. High blood pressure can be caused for a many of reasons, the first that comes to my mind is high added-sugar diet. I would suggest you to avoid high added-sugar food/beverages, breakfast cereals, chocolates and all processed food high in sugar. Check the labels and avoid added-sugar. Fruit is not a problem as it contains fiber which makes sugar to be slowly absorbed without raising blood sugar levels. Change white rice for brown rice, whole grains contain more fiber and don’t spike insulin levels. Check my no-sugar diet challenge to learn more about how to ditch sugar from your diet, is that’s the case. You can find the challenge here. I would recommend you to first get rid of added-sugar from your diet and then start the meal replacement shakes, or do both at the time. Hope I’ve helped.
Thanks I’ll try that.