Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Toxic Contaminants In OmegaPure Fish Oil Nutritional Supplements

Feb 21: According to a release from Greenpeace USA, an independent laboratory analysis released today (February 21, 2007) has identified high levels of three toxic chemicals in the popular brand of Omega-3 fish oil nutritional supplements known as OmegaPure. These contaminants include DDT, Dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which have all been identified by U.S. EPA as "probable" carcinogens and have been banned in the United States. The contaminants were also found in the fish oil and meal used in pet food and animal feed as nutritional supplements. OmegaPure is produced by Houston-based Omega Protein, Inc., which is the largest producer of fish oil in the United States.

John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Specialist said, "Consumers have a right to know that the products they buy to supposedly improve their health could actually be putting them at risk. Omega Protein’s products should either be cleaned-up or pulled off the market. In the meantime, consumers seeking the benefits of Omega-3 oils should consider safer sources such as flaxseed oil or algae-derived sources of Omega-3s.” The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) laboratories -- an executive agency and research body within the government of the United Kingdom -- performed the analysis for the Greenpeace Research Laboratories located at the University of Exeter.

Hocevar said, “We first became concerned about Omega Protein after watching them do everything they could to avoid regulation of their fisheries. Not only does the company lack concern for the impacts of their fishing practices on the environment but there is a similar lack of concern for the contents of the supplements they sell.”

Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said, "These newest findings point to the need for the White House to let the Food and Drug Administration finalize regulations setting manufacturing standards for dietary supplements. The White House Office of Management and Budget has effectively prevented the FDA from finalizing these rules, known as ‘Good Manufacturing Practices,’ for more than five years."

According to the more detailed laboratory analysis report, "Within the USA, the FDA does apply an overall tolerance limit of 2 ppm for PCBs in fish and shellfish for consumption. On this basis, PCB concentrations recorded for the fish oil dietary supplement analyzed in the current study fall significantly (10 to 20 times) below that level (at between 0.092 and 0.195 ppm, depending on the summation method employed). However, a far lower ‘screening value’ of 20 ppb (0.02 ppm, determined against Aroclor standard mixtures of PCBs) is set by the US EPA for fish consumption by recreational fishers, based on an assumed average daily intake of 12g of material and an ‘acceptable’ cancer risk level of 10­-5. Against this screening value, the potential dietary intake from even a single menhaden oil capsule taken each day can be seen to be quite significant. Intake from consumption of more than one capsule each day would exceed the EPA guideline, even before consideration of contributions from other sources." Omega recommends a dose of “1-2 capsules with a meal up to 3 times daily or as directed by a healthcare professional".

Access a release from Greenpeace (
click here). Access the detailed laboratory results and a video of Omega Protein, Inc. operations (click here). [*Toxics]