Nordic Naturals seeks new fish oil freshness test

Nordic Naturals® is working on a new testing method for naturally flavored fish oils that promises to solve the a long-known industry problem of inaccurate and misleading freshness test results.

December 8, 2011

3 Min Read
Nordic Naturals seeks new fish oil freshness test

Nordic Naturals' new procedure will test the fish oil three times: prior to flavoring, after adding flavoring, and then after removing the flavoring.

The company said it plans to announce results early in 2012, and it will share the method with other manufacturers to help alleviate confusion in the market.  

This summer, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business (NAD) told Nordic Naturals it 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. 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.

At the time, 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 couldn't 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.

Flavoring fish oils can affect the anisidine value of the oil. In a pure fish oil, high-aldehyde content (anisidine values) can be indicative of oxidation, but adding a flavoring increases the anisidine value, and thus may give a false positive for oxidation. In order to address this, many manufacturers publish their preflavoring freshness values and not their finished product results.  

There is no established methodology for testing a naturally flavored oil because the addition of natural  lemon or orange, for example, can create a false positive for anisidine, an indicator of freshness, that then suggests the finished product is not as fresh as it really is," said  Joar Opheim, CEO of  Nordic Naturals.

Nordic Naturals noted this confusion also led to the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports reporting, Elevated levels of compounds that indicate spoilage in Nordic Naturals pills" when they tested one of Nordic Naturals products. Had the organization contacted us to let us know they were doing these tests, we would have had the opportunity to share very important and relevant information about testing naturally flavored oils," said Keri Marshall, MS, ND, Nordic Naturals Chief Medical Officer. "Because the organizations conclusion may be uninformed and incomplete, consumers could be led to question our product even though it has passed all other tests for quality that Consumer Reports included in their review. Nordic Naturals is working with the publication to resolve misleading information. It would be unfortunate for all if the many benefits of natural flavoring were called into question by inconclusive testing, compromising scientific integrity."

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