Are you taking Omega supplements to improve your health? If you are, you might want to think twice. In an independent labratory analysis, three different toxic chemicals were identified in the popular brand of Omega-3 fish oil nutritional supplements known as OmegaPure.
These contaminants include the pesticides DDT and Dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which have all been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as ‘probable’ carcinogens and are banned in the United States.
The demand for Omega-3-fortified products has increased over the
years following reports that consumption of fish oils may reduce
the risk of heart disease and stroke. These benefits appear to be
driving the development of a new market for Omega-3 enriched
products including orange juice, yogurt, butter and peanut butter
among others.With the market for these Omega rich fish oils
increasing and big business finding new ways to introduce them into
our diet, shouldn't we be aware of the toxics we could be
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.
"Consumers have a right to know that the products they buy to
supposedly improve their health could actually be putting them at
risk," said John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Specialist. "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."
Living in a Vacuum
Over the past several years, fishermen and conservation
organizations have expressed serious concern that the vast scale of
Omega's operations may be taking food away from striped bass,
seabirds, and whales. The Omega Protein company vacuums massive
quantities - hundreds of thousands of tons - of menhaden through
state-of-the-art factory fishing vessels that locate entire schools
of these tiny fish. Menhaden is a filter-feeder, meaning it cleans
impurities in the water. That's crucial to places like the
Chesapeake Bay, where water pollution from farm and sewage runoff
is creating increasingly severe problems for the bay and its
inhabitants. But this hard-working little fish is disappearing
fast, and its job in the food chain is irreplaceable.
You can read more about Greenpeace's fight to save the Menhaden
"We first became concerned about Omega Protein after watching
them do everything they could to avoid regulation of their
fisheries," said Hocevar. "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."
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
Read a report of the analysis here.