Last fall, a reader called to say that she wasn’t getting the number of scoops out of her Cosequin jar that the label says she should. Ears perked forward, I listened carefully.
When she noticed that the product wasn’t lasting as many days as it should, she counted the scoops in a new jar. The number fell short of the label’s 424 scoops. She counted again. Short again, by nearly 15%. She said she’d called the company several times, but she wasn’t happy with their responses. She wanted to know if we would look into it.
We purchased three of our current top joint-nutraceutical products — 1400- gram Cosequin (Nutramax), 2.5-lb. Arthroxigen (Uckele Health) and 3.75-lb. Grand Flex (Grand Meadows). Using the scoop in the jar, we counted level scoops and compared it to what we thought we should get.
The Cosequin jar said 424 scoops. We got 353 (about 17% less).
The Arthroxigen, we estimated, should give us 45 scoops. We got 58 (about 28% more product).
We thought Grand Flex would be 60 scoops, and we got 55 (about 8% less).
We weighed the contents of each container. The weight of the product matched the weight listed on the jar. That made us decide the problem was the scoop, but it struck us as odd that all three products would have incorrect scoops in their jars.
We contacted each company and learned the problem is that powders settle and compact, and the amount of settling varies with the density of the powder itself, how it was shipped, and even with the humidity.
Dr. Todd Henderson, from Nutramax, explained that they designed a scoop to ensure that the horse gets a therapeutic dose, based on the product’s average density. Nutramax ensures that every container contains the amount of product, in weight, stated on the label and that all lots are tested. If anything, he said, you’d want to give your horse a little extra, because under-dosing may not give you the desired effect.
Nick Hartog, from Grand Meadows, agreed. He said the only way you can give your horse the ”perfect” dose is to weigh each scoop before you give it, since so many variables can affect the product in the scoop.
Hartog agreed that underfeeding the product is worse and said that the difference is negligible. Both Henderson and Hartog stated that they doubt consumers want to get a scale and weigh every scoop before giving it to their horses (I know I certainly don’t!), so they do the best they can using a convenient scoop and clearly labeling the basis for the number of scoops.
Kristina Goulet, from Uckele, said that when they received our message they checked their Arthroxigen and found that the scoop in the package was too small to hold the 25-gram dose indicated on the label. They immediately took action to correct it. However, she said, the density of this product does change between lots, which they know due to quality-control checks.
We all know that products cake up in high humidity and things settle in shipping. Although I don’t want to over-dose my horse, I don’t want to under-dose her either, especially with joint products. For now, until someone comes up with a better idea — that won’t raise the price of the product — I’m content to scoop.