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Choosing the Best Fish Oil

Is Your Fish Oil Made in China? Part 3

written by Vin Kutty

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best fish oil supplement

fish oil made in china
See Part 1 and Part 2.

In Part 2, we talked about the likelihood of your Omega-3 supplement being made in China or containing Chinese fish oil.

So what if it really was made in China?

What’s the problem with ‘Made in China’?

Well, the problem is that there is no permanent transparency in China.

Some Chinese plants are open to audits. And many US auditors visit these companies regularly.

But there are no true and lasting controls.

Some Chinese manufacturers produce excellent products. And some don’t. It’s the latter that worry me.
GOED Global Organization for EPA DHA Omega-3
Most North American and European fish oil refiners belong to GOED, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3, a non-profit trade group.

  • GOED membership requires some transparency and quality compliance.
  • GOED members must commit to following a code of ethics and business practices.
  • Most importantly, GOED’s monograph serves as an unofficial quality guideline for the fish oil industry.

Until very recently, GOED had no Chinese members.

You only need to look at the drug recalls during the last 5 years to get an idea of what scares me.

The 2007 Melamine pet food scare followed by the 2008 Heparin disaster that killed 149 people, were on newspaper front pages. When the FDA inspected the offending plants, they found several serious issues.

More recently, counterfeit Viagra that had drywall ingredients mixed in. (No jokes, please!)

And that’s just for pharmaceutical drugs that legally require more monitoring that a dietary supplement like fish oil.

Only 12% of Chinese plants inspected by 2010

FDA Inspection of fish oil facilities in China
The FDA says that it does not have the funds nor bear the responsibility to inspect on a regular basis, overseas manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients. A GAO report released in October 2010 states that the FDA had inspected only 12% of hundreds of Chinese pharmaceutical plants that produce ingredients for the US market.

That’s just for pharmaceutical drugs, not dietary supplement manufacturers.

Monitoring all foreign fish oil manufacturing is unreasonable and simply can’t be a high priority for the FDA.

The Beauty of Cheap

As Americans, we expect a Chinese screwdriver or pen to be cheap.

We expect it to break.

We toss it and buy a new one.

That’s the beauty of cheap.

A leaky pen or broken screwdriver never hurts your health.

The point of all this is to demand transparency! If you choose to buy a discount fish oil for any reason, that’s fine. But you deserve the right to know what you’re getting for your money.

If you can’t get transparency from the Chinese, well, fine. You should expect demand it from your American supplier!

  • When it comes to something you ingest, something you put in your body to improve your health, don’t you want better control over it?
  • Don’t you want to know where it’s from and what’s in it?
  • When you ask questions, don’t you want real answers?

It’s OK to expect all of that!

Enter Branded Fish Oils!

Manufacturers of high quality fish oils like Ocean Nutrition, EPAX, Organic Technologies and Croda have begun branding their oils.

Think ‘Intel Inside.’

Ocean Nutrition’s oil is called MEG-3.
Croda’s oil is called PureMax.
Organic Tech’s is called AlaskOmega.
EPAX’s oil is called, well, EPAX.

You may not know these names or their brands. Yet. But these brands are made proudly in places like Norway, Canada or…Ohio. Yes, Ohio!

They have their own logos.

AlaskOmega Fish Oil
EPAX Fish Oil Made in Norway
meg-3 fish oil logo

Some fish oil products have started putting these fishy logos on their products. Look for it. At least it tells you that the oils were made to exacting and third-party validated standards.

Think Dell computer with that tiny Intel logo. Same thing.

If there’s no fancy logo…

…call the company that makes your fish oil pills and just ask.

Some will tell you the straight up truth. They may even show you proof of where it’s made.

Others may give you a coined answer like “Our product is sourced from various locations and it passes all mandated quality specifications.” That’s when you hang up the phone and keep looking for a better fish oil supplement.

EPA DHA Fish Oil Ohio Plate



*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

  1. I read all 3 parts of Chinese fish oil issue. Now the question is, when the Chinese fish oil is ‘low quality’, what does it REALLY mean? I am willing to pay higher price for the brands you mentioned or even for your brand but what I want to know is, how the quality differs? Can you explain that part in layman’s terms?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi TJ – ‘low quality’ means several things – old rancid oils. High PCB content, Arsenic, Mercury, oxidation by-products (indicators of rancidity) etc. Lots of things can go wrong. The problem with China is the total lack of transparency. You have to believe them at their word. And they will happily give you a certificate of analysis that says what you want to read, regardless of the truth. The fish source could say anchovy but it could be from eel and catfish. There is simply no telling.

      Like I mentioned in the piece, there are many ‘blenders’ who blend cheap chinese oils with good Canadian stuff and sell it as Made in USA. The problem is deep. The only way to get around it is to buy products that CLEARLY say MEG-3 (Canadian) etc. Look for the brand I mentioned.

      A deeper problem that could happen is that the Chinese govt has been aiding buyouts (which fortunately failed this year) of Peruvian fish oil suppliers. If this happens, Chinese can do to fish oil that they did to Vitamin C. Sell below cost, thanks to govt subsidy, and force all the commodity brands to buy from them. Then when all American and European Omega-3 players go belly up, jack up the price. Exactly what happened to Vitamin C 10 years ago. Now Chinese Vitamin C companies are the only ones left standing.

  2. Now you make me super nervous on the Made In USA brand fish oil that I’ve been taking and feeding to my child.

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