Home > fish oil > Are Your Fish Oil Pills Contaminated?

Are Your Fish Oil Pills Contaminated?

Environmentalists and the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation, a nonprofit consumer rights organization, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, naming eight manufacturers and retailers for distributing fish oil supplements with “illegally undisclosed and unnecessarily high levels of contamination with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds.” PCBs are industrial chemicals recognized for causing cancer and reproductive toxicity.

U.S. consumers spent $739 million on fish and animal oil supplements in 2008, making it the eighth most popular dietary supplement on Nutrition Business Journal’s list of the top 100 selling supplements in the United States.

Some of the tested supplements exceed California’s daily limit for PCBs by a factor of 10 in terms of the cancer risk, Roe said.

Chris Manthey, one of the plaintiffs, said, “Many of them say their supplements have been ‘treated’ to remove or reduce PCBs. Since they don’t say how much PCB contamination is still left, even consumers who choose ‘treated’ supplements can’t know what PCB levels they’re swallowing.”

The tests, done by a California lab at a cost of $1,000 per product, measured PCBs two ways, according to the plaintiffs.

One way determines daily exposure to PCBs by looking at all 209 separate compounds in the PCB chemical family. The second way looks at toxicity based on the 12 most toxic compounds in the PCB family.

The lawsuit involves six manufacturers of fish oil supplements and two drug store chains:

CVS Pharmacy, Inc.
General Nutrition Corporation
NOW Health Group, Inc.
Omega Protein, Inc.
Pharmavite LLC
Rite Aid Corporation
Solgar, Inc.
Twinlab Corporation

The following products were subsequently cited in the complaint:

GNC Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
Nature Made Cod Liver Oil
Nature Made Odorless Fish Oil
NOW Foods Double Strength Cod Liver Oil
NOW Foods Salmon Oil
NOW Foods Shark Liver Oil
Solgar 100 percent pure Norwegian Shark Liver Oil Complex
Solgar Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
Twinlab Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
Twinlab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Check your fish oil supplements to ensure they’re not from one of the manufacturers listed in the law suit. To minimize your exposure to toxins, choose products made from small fish with short life spans, such as anchovies and sardines.

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