Fish Oil Supplement Test Results and the Manufactures respond (PCB, Omega-3)
To read the actual case and test results of the fish oil supplements in question, go to fishoilsafety.com.
The site is actually housed at org2.democracyinaction.org, here you can view the test results of PCBs found in Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements. Which Fish Oil Supplements Contain PCB? That would be brands Nature Made, Twinlab Norwegian, Solgar, Now Foods and GNC liquid Norwegian.
Be sure to check out our article first covering the news with all the supplements named -- Which Fish Oil Supplements Contain PCB?
From the Prop. 65 Lawsuit - click to read>>
Frequently Asked Questions about Our Lawsuit
1. WHAT ARE PCBs, and HOW HARMFUL ARE THEY?
1. What are PCBs? Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB compounds) are man-made industrial chemicals with long track records as some of the worst environmental pollutants and human health threats. Congress banned their manufacture back in 1979, but PCBs are extremely persistent (they don’t break down), and they accumulate up the food chain.
2. How do they harm people? They’ve been officially recognized for 20 years as causing both cancer and reproductive toxicity, and studies show they are endocrine disruptors (for example, changing some fetuses from male to female in animal studies). These gender-bending properties of PCBs affect both physical characteristics and behavior.
3. How much is too much? We know for sure that more is worse than less, and our tests show that some fish oil supplements have many times as much PCBs as others. California has set a daily intake that represents “no significant risk” of PCBs causing cancer, which some of these products exceed by up to a factor of 10. But there is no official safety level for PCBs causing reproductive toxicity. So the only guideline consumers can follow is that less is safer.
2. WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES?
1. What should consumers do with this news? Since less is safer, and we know some omega-3 supplements have much lower levels of PCBs than others, consumers can pick the ones with low levels. Or, they could switch to omega-3 supplements that are made from plant material (like flax oil) instead of fish oil. We tested some plant-based supplements and found no detectable PCBs in them.
2. Which products should a consumer choose, then? We think consumers will want to choose products that have been tested and that show the lowest levels of PCB contamination. Our initial tests have shown you can cut your exposure to very small fractions of the PCB levels in the products with the highest levels tested so far. More tests are being carried out, since our results cover only 10 of more than 100 fish oil products on the market, and we have no way of knowing whether the ones we tested are higher or lower than others until we test them.
In our initial tests of 10 products, those with the lowest overall levels of PCBs at the recommended daily dose were, in order, Solgar Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, TwinLab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, GNC Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, and TwinLab Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil.
After weighting for how toxic some of the contaminants are (the ones for which weighting factors exist), the products that ranked the lowest for toxicity were, in order, TwinLab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, TwinLab Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, Solar 100% Pure Norwegian Shark Liver Oil Complex, and Nature Made Odorless Fish Oil.
3. What about products you haven’t tested yet? There are over 100 fish oil supplement products on the market, and we have no way of knowing if some have more or less PCB contamination than the ones we have tested. We will be doing more testing and more analysis. We also plan to ask the manufacturers to commit to doing meaningful testing themselves (and making the results public so consumers can make informed choices). In the meantime, these results give consumers a way to make comparisons among these 10 products, with more information to come.
4. How did you choose these products/pick these companies? The industry has known about PCBs in fish oil for a long time, and a recent survey of 75 companies by the Environmental Defense Fund showed some companies being less careful about PCBs than others. We chose some of those. But these are just the ones in the first round of testing. Without more testing, we can’t know whether this group includes the worst in the market (or the best).
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