Knowledge Level: Beginner
In a series of articles, we will profile British Cycling’s and Team Sky’s Official Nutrition Supplier, CNP. As well as looking at the company’s history, we go behind the scenes at their state-of-the-art facility in Manchester, see why it’s the trusted brand of Team Sky and British Cycling.
With input from Team Sky and Great Britain Cycling Team nutritionist, , show you how, when and why to use their products.
Manchester based CNP was founded in 1998 by former bodybuilding champion Kerry Kayes. Sports supplements then, especially protein, were very much fringe products and had to be imported into the UK, mostly from the USA. Within the bodybuilding and gym community CNP’s products soon became recognised as market leaders and the brand went from strength to strength.
From cow to gold medal
In 2012 CNP was acquired by First Milk Group, a British farmer owned dairy co-op set up to secure the best returns for its farmers’ milk. With whey protein being a by-product of cheese making, the acquisition is the first stage in a fully traceable provenance trail from cow to Olympic Gold Medals and Tour de France victories.
British Cycling and Team Sky
The Official partnership with British Cycling and Team Sky began in 2010 although, prior to that date, both were already buying and using CNP products for their riders. Nutritional thinking in cycling has always been very carbohydrate focused but, with CNP’s expertise in protein and Team Sky and British Cycling’s progressive attitudes to high performance, innovation and rider nutrition, the importance of protein, alongside carbohydrates, for optimal performance in cyclists led to the production of a complete product portfolio for endurance athletes. Both the riders and nutritionist Nigel Mitchell were actively involved in formulating and testing the product range to ensure it delivered at the highest performance levels in the sport.
As suppliers to professional athletes, CNP have a vigorous and fully traceable process to be able to guarantee that their products supplied to professional athletes are 100% free of any banned substances. With all powder based products mixed and packaged onsite, full control and regulation of the manufacturing process is possible. Every new batch of a product is independently tested by HFL Sport Science, a world class sports doping control laboratory. Any products then being supplied to professional athletes, such as Team Sky, are certified and are then stored in a quarantine section prior to dispatch.
The production line
When the wagons arrive with the raw ingredients from CNP’s trusted and regularly audited suppliers, the first stage in the process to guarantee quality and zero contamination is to inspect for any signs of damage or tampering. If there’s even the slightest tear in a sack, the consignment will be rejected. These raw ingredients, including oats, Dextrose and milk protein are then stacked in order of allergens. High allergen ingredients are placed at the bottom and low allergen towards the top. This helps to prevent possible allergen contamination.
24 hour CCTV monitors the aisles of the warehouse and eliminates the risk of tampering of any products that might be used by British Cycling or Team Sky.
The raw materials are then picked for what is being made that day and are sent into a holding room with a positive pressure airlock between the warehouse and production. Meanwhile, the bottles or tubs that are being used for that batch are placed on the production line, after having been individually check and held upside down to again minimise any chance of foreign body contamination.
Along with meticulous cleaning, the production area is kept at continuous positive pressure. This means that filtered air is pumped in all day keeping both dust and foreign bodies to an absolute minimum. The raw ingredients are then individually weighed out using an advanced and fully automated system that ensures 100% consistency.
Once weighed, the ingredients are sent up to the blender. Each ingredient has its own bar-code and this is scanned to ensure that the ingredients are added in the correct order. If the recipe is deviated from, the system flashes this up and halts the process. During loading, all of the ingredients are constantly vibrated, passed through a sieve and then blended continuously with blades. This thorough blending process can take up to 40 minutes in total and, like the entire production process, is closely monitored by CCTV. If a recipe involves any allergens, such as gluten, the entire blender is cleaned, including a full alcohol wipe down, before the next product batch goes in.
After blending, the completed powder is transferred to the filling line. During this process, the weight in each bottle, sachet or tub is checked and they pass through a highly sensitive metal detection system to check for any metal contamination. If any metallic foreign bodies are detected, that product is automatically ejected from the line and production is paused.
The final stage of the process is labelling, where both the date and batch number are checked and cross referenced.
Throughout the whole production process the levels of cleanliness, monitoring and care are truly staggering. This ensures that both you and the riders of British Cycling and Team Sky can be totally confident in CNP and their products.