The omega 3 controversial study done by Auckland Uni

 Comment from the NZIC Oils and Fats Group

Dr. Laurence Eyres, MNZIC, FNZIFST


A group of NZ researchers (not professional analysts) from the University of Auckland recently investigated both % fatty acid composition and oxidation levels of off-the-shelf fish oil supplements. Selected fish oil supplements were not identified by brand owner. The results were skewed very negative- both on label claim compliance and oxidation levels. The attached study came out into the public recently and generated negative publicity for the industry, both in New Zealand and in Australia

The omega-3 centre has had several Omega-3 and lipid experts take a look at the results and they were surprised; both for the non-compliant results on oil % analysis for EPA/DHA and for the out-of-spec oxidation levels. In Australia, CSIRO did similar research in 2014 on % EPA/DHA and the results were predominantly compliant. Consumer Lab in the USA did a similar study and most brands were compliant; Consumer NZ did a survey in 2007, the results were not as negative as this one.

This study highlights an issue I have seen in the industry and academia for years, which is around consistent testing methods across the commercial and research laboratories in this region of the world. The AAOCS committee strongly recommends the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) nutraceutical oils proficiency program run by the AOCS. This program tests both fatty acids composition but also quality , oils by acid value  AV ,oxidation (peroxide value (PV), para- anisidine value (p-AV) and TOTOX (summation of oxidation by the formula 2 x PV + pAV)).This program uses AOCS methods and is in line with GOED Voluntary Monograph quality standard for EPA and DHA oils. The reported paper did not use validated methods and they were not certified by a proficiency programme.

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