Posted March 13, 2015

Problems Found with New Zealand Fish Oil Supplements, Concerns Raised About Testing Methods

On January 21, 2015, a study was published which reported that only 3 of 32 fish oil supplements commercially available in New Zealand contained the amount of EPA and DHA listed on their labels (Albert, Sci Rep 2015). In addition, 50% of the supplements tested exceeded recommended limits for oxidation, an indication of spoilage.

The study included one fish oil supplement from Canada, and two from the U.S., although product names and brands were not given.

While ConsumerLab.com has found some fish oil products sold in the U.S. and Canada to contain less EPA and/or DHA than claimed, or to be rancid, the extent of problems reported by the New Zealand researchers is unusually large -- leading some experts and trade organizations such as GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s) to question the reliability of the findings. GOED has raised concerns that the researchers did not disclose their method for measuring amounts of EPA and DHA or distinguish between various forms of the fatty acids (ethyl ester or triglyceride) -- issues which can affect test results. Additionally, certain common flavor additives to fish oils, such as lemon or citrus, can cause a false reading, erroneously indicating spoilage. ConsumerLab.com is aware of these limitations, which are factored into its own review process.

(See ConsumerLab.com's Review of Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements for tests of related products.)

To read the full study, use the link below.