NAD questions Nordic Naturals' freshness claims

The NAD has raised questions regarding freshness claims made by Nordic Naturals regarding their Omega Sport 90 product.

August 2, 2011

5 Min Read
NAD questions Nordic Naturals' freshness claims

Nordic Naturals should not claim its Ultimate Omega Sport 90 is superior to other products or that it complies with industry standards based on the testing methods it currently uses, according to the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business (NAD).

NADs issues included the correct time to test the fish oil to accurately determine its purity and freshness, and related to that, whether the addition of a certain lemon flavoring to the fish oil reacts with and causes the fish oil to oxidize, or skews the test results. The claims at issue were challenged by Zone Labs Inc., a competing manufacturer of edible fish oil supplements.

Nordic Naturals absolutely stands by the freshness of all our oils," said Keri Marshall, ND, chief medical officer, Nordic Naturals. We would like to assure all of our loyal supporters that we have and will continue to ensure safety and purity for all of our products." She said Nordic Naturals is evaluating the NAD recommendations and will make appropriate modifications to future advertising claims if necessary.

 NAD conceded that Nordic Naturals uses the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) monograph as an industry standard for evaluating fish oil, but NAD said the GOED monograph cannot support advertising claims made for a finished fish-oil product. NAD said GOED tests for the purity of fish oil in its raw form and thus questioned the relevance of such test results when used to form the basis for advertising claims for finished, encapsulated fish oil supplements, particularly products that are combined with other ingredients, such as flavorings.

Nordic Naturals tests its fish oil in its raw form, according to NAD, before the oil is flavored or encapsulated. Zone Labs argued standards call for testing of the finished product, and contended flavoring does not simply skew the test results, but instead contributes to tainting" the product by causing the fish oil to oxidize. As a result, Zone Labs said the product, in its finished form, is neither pure nor fresh, as claimed.

Adam Ismail, executive director, GOED said GOEDs Voluntary Monograph is applicable to both bulk refined oils and finished products, but is not applicable to formulations.  The ruling says the Monograph applies to raw oils, which actually is not true," Ismail said. Raw oils are unrefined crude fish oils, but our Monograph focuses on refined oils for human consumption.  I think what NAD intended to say is that the quality criteria in our Monograph applies to unformulated oils in both bulk and finished form.  The addition of a flavoring is considered a formulation, in part because a new element is added, and it is no longer a pure fish oil.  Therefore, the quality of the fish oil is indistinguishable from the other ingredients in the final product. It is because of this that common industry practice has been to test the oil before adding a flavor to ensure that it is high quality.  The NAD ruling does not have any issue with this, but sees an issue when companies add a flavor (creating a formulation) and then make freshness claims using the GOED Voluntary Monograph as the basis when it does not apply to formulations."

Ismail said Nordic Naturals submitted data that showed the peroxide value was unchanged by the addition of the flavoring, showing it did not affect the oxidation of the oil. However, he said the flavoring affected the anisidine value of the oil. But this is a colorimetric method of estimating aldehyde content, rather than oxidation.  In a pure fish oil, high-aldehyde content (anisidine values) can be indicative of oxidation having taken place before the refining process, but when you add a flavoring as the source of aldehydes, it does not always mean the oil has been oxidized or that it will oxidize faster in the future."

Further, Ismail said, It is important to note that fish oil supplements that do not contain flavorings are not considered formulations and it does not appear that NAD has an issue with the Monograph being used as a basis for freshness claims in these instances."

Marshall noted Nordic Naturals uses natural citrus flavors in some of its oils that contain an aldehyde. The presence of aldehydes due to flavoring can cause an artificially high anisidine value that is not related to oxidation and does not represent the actual condition of the oil. Peroxide is a measurement of the current oxidation of the oil. All Nordic Naturals oils are tested as finished product for peroxide levels and routinely demonstrate exceptional freshness."

NAD recommended Nordic Naturals discontinue claims related to its manufacturing process, and its adherence to the Norwegian Medicinal Standard, European Pharmacopoeia Standard, the voluntary standards set by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and GOED.

The advertising claims at issue were on Nordic Naturals website and in print, and include the following claims:

  •  Nordic Naturals adheres to and exceeds the stringent Norwegian Medicinal Standard (NMS) and the European Pharmacopoeia Standard (EPS) as well as the voluntary standards set by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) for all of our products."

  •  Nordic Naturals patented, oxygen-free manufacturing process delivers peroxide values (indicators of freshness) down to absolute 0.0mEq/kg, with an average of 0.75 mEq/kg or approximately 14 times below the Norwegian Medicinal Standard and European Pharmacopoeia Standard limits."

  •  Our leading edge refining techniques reduces any potential toxins to undetectable amounts."

  •  Our products consistently test far below acceptable national and international pharmaceutical limits."

  •  The Norwegian Medicinal Standard for PCBs and HCBs is 3.0 ppt, while Nordic Naturals is testing down to 0.4 ppt without detection."

NAD also recommended that Nordic Naturals discontinue the comparative claim stating that, Nordic Naturals has perfected fish oils by offering great taste, purity, and unmatched freshness levels," since the company did not perform comparative testing.

NAD noted that the advertiser permanently discontinued the claim that, The Norwegian Medicinal Standard for PCBs and HCBs is 3.0 ppt, while Nordic Naturals is testing down to 0.4 ppt without detection," prior to the date of Zones challenge. NAD closed it inquiry as it relates to that claim.

Nordic Naturals, in its advertisers statement, said that while the company does not concede that any of its advertising claims are false or misleading, it accepts the NADs decision in its entirety."

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