The paper, published in Nutrients, follows several recent studies (such as this one from the University of Auckland in 2015) which reported that New Zealand and Australian products contained substantially lower EPA and DHA content than label claims and were also heavily oxidized.
The authors, from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Deakin University and Monash University pointed out that the 2015 study led to widespread negative media coverage of Omega-3 products, particularly in New Zealand.
Therefore, they decided to undertake their own testing in a lab accredited by the therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
They purchased fish oil capsule products common to Australia and New Zealand in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Products were from two groups; five standard fish oil products and five fish oil concentrates.
“Total n-3 content exceeded the label-claimed content for all 10 products, with supplements containing on average 124% of the claimed content (range 115%–136%); eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA + DHA) content averaged 109% of the label claim (range 99%–119%),” they wrote.
“All 10 products (100%) similarly met the international recommended peroxide value (PV) level. Anisidine value (pAV) met the international recommended level for eight of the 10 products, with two products known to contain flavorings that interfere with the pAV test.”
They contrasted their findings with those from the 2015 study, which they argued “were not obtained from an accredited laboratory, and nor were standard protocols used.”
“When accredited laboratories and standard protocols are used, Australian and New Zealand fish oil products have been shown to clearly meet their label claims for EPA + DHA content, and are not oxidized,” they added.
The Australian and New Zealand headquartered Omega-3 Centre, which funded the latest study, and its sister association in the USA, the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA (GOED), along with the regional New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Oils and Fats Group and Australasian Section of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AAOCS), state they consulted with a large number of lipid science and omega-3 experts in the wake of the University of Auckland study.
“Those consulted were rather surprised by the New Zealand results, especially as the Australian government science agency, CSIRO and collaborators, had performed similar research published in 2014 on both percentage and also absolute content of EPA and DHA in a range of products purchased in Australia and available in New Zealand; these studies reported the samples were predominantly compliant with label claim,” states the study.
It suggests the University of Auckland fish oils study highlights the lack of consistent testing methods across commercial and research laboratories that has affected academia and industry in recent years, adding the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) and other industry associations including GOED provide support for science around rigorous and validated analytical testing of oils.
“The new Omega-3 Centre results are provided here for access and discussion by the wide range of concerned groups, societies, industry, and importantly the consumers seeking high quality Australian and New Zealand LC omega-3 containing fish oil products,” the study concludes.
“Australian and New Zealand Fish Oil Products in 2016 Meet Label Omega-3 Claims and Are Not Oxidized”
Authors: Peter D. Nichols, et al.