Study calls into Question the quality and EPA/DHA content of many Fish Oil Supplements sold in New Zealand and Australia

January 2015, Kane Matthews

Summary

A study conducted by the University of Auckland in conjunction with the University of Newcastle, and published this week questions the quality and label accuracy of n-3 PUFA (omega 3 fatty acids) in fish oil supplements marketed in New Zealand and Australia.

A study conducted by the University of Auckland in conjunction with the University of Newcastle, and published this week questions the quality and label accuracy of n-3 PUFA (omega 3 fatty acids) fish oil supplements marketed in New Zealand and Australia.

According to the authors, the study analysed the EPA+DHA content of 32 fish oil supplements. Only 3 of the 32 oils tested contained EPA+DHA levels that were equal to or higher than what was claimed on the labels.

In addition, the authors also reported that 36 fish oil supplements were tested and analysed for oxidation against the GOED Voluntary Monograph. Only 3 of the 36 oils tested met all of the international recommendations.

GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s) is an organisation which Xtend-Life is a proud member of. GOED has published a statement on their initial review of the study's findings.

In light of the study and the related media attention it has received, Warren Matthews, Chairman and Founder of Xtend-Life Natural Products would like to assure our customers that Xtend-Life Natural Products prides itself in manufacturing and supplying some of the purest, freshest and true-to-label Omega 3 fish oil products available.  Xtend-Life has also invested a significant amount of time and resources in sourcing only the very best fish oil available. Our fish oil is encapsulated in New Zealand and every batch is thoroughly tested for oxidization, including AV, PV and Totox.  Every batch is also tested for, heavy metals, Omega 3, DHA & EPA, and we use a New Zealand government-owned laboratory adhering to extremely strict standards, to absolutely assure the quality and true-to-label status of our products.

The researchers suggested the following in report…

However, such striking uniformity suggests that the companies selling the products have relied on data provided by extractors who supply fish oil to multiple brands.”

They also suggested that “This suggests that the fatty acid content is unlikely to be measured in individual batches of fish oil.”

It was also observed that most of the oils tested were sourced from South America and that this may be part of the problem.

Xtend-Life can confirm that we test all raw materials, and we do test every batch of our fish oil products for the oxidisation markers and we test every batch for Omega3, DHA & EPA, using the internationally accepted AOAC method.  We do not source any fish oil from South America.

Although the study and media articles did not mention brand or product names, we looked at the study’s list of retail fish oils tested. Based on their testing variables and criteria, namely the country of origin, recommended retail price in US dollars per gram of fish oil, as well as the amount of EPA+DHA per capsule, and the ‘subject codes’ associated with each metric, we are confident that Xtend-Life’s Omega 3 Fish Oil products were not included in the products tested.

“Independent studies are beneficial for both the industry and the consumer, provided that they are conducted using transparent and internationally accepted protocols.  In the case of this study there are some serious questions still unanswered,” says Warren Matthews. “It highlights the importance for consumers to put fish oil supplement companies to the test and hold them to the highest standard, so we can be sure that consumers are buying products that are effective, true-to-label, and value for money.”

He also had 4 points he would like to mention in response to the study and media reports:

  1. All our oil is encapsulated in New Zealand.
  2. We use NZ hoki and we also use exceptional quality concentrated Tuna oil.  We do not source any fish oil from South America
  3. We test every batch to ensure that it conforms to potency and freshness specifications.
  4. We have GMP, HACCP & RMP programs in place to ensure the very highest standards are maintained.

“We have documented proof of not just our product’s quality but also the manufacturing process in accordance with our GMP, HACCP & RMP quality management systems. We are very proud of our quality products, testing protocols and the standards we maintain with every batch” he concludes.

Consumer awareness and fish oil supplier credibility go hand-in-hand in this industry. These studies shed a light on both, and at Xtend-Life we welcome them as they help improve the industry and assist consumers in finding which fish oils they can trust for quality and value.

As a member of GOED, we have been given permission to re-publish the GOED response to this study.  Please find this attached. For more information about GOED, please click here.

While we welcome the scrutiny of the products on the market, GOED have raised a series of concerns about this study, and these are highlighted in GOED’s initial response.  We agree that GOED’s concerns are important and valid.  We also welcome the additional scrutiny that will result from the randomized testing that GOED is going to initiate on products in the New Zealand marketplace.  GOED will provide a valuable insight into the state of fish oil products in our marketplace utilizing transparent and internationally accepted testing methodology.

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