What is IFOS? And Should You Care?
IFOS stands for International Fish Oil Standards.
And yes, you definitely should care!
IFOS testing program is administered by NutraSource Diagnostics at the University of Guelph in Canada. IFOS is the third party testing that everyone keeps asking me about.
Thanks to IFOS, you don’t have to believe the manufacturer’s marketing hype or spin – IFOS does the fact-checking for you.
The IFOS Program tests Omega-3 products for purity and quality.
They don’t manufacture or market fish oil. They test. And they publish. That’s it.
And the best part?
IFOS Fish Oil Test Results are Open to Public
The results of their tests are open to the public for free. Just go to their website and see.
They don’t publish the results of all the fish oil tests. Companies that get their fish oil tested at IFOS have to pay extra to publish the results. The whole thing costs over $3,000.
This really helps you, the consumer, pick brands of fish oil that are CONFIDENT about their products.
Any company that has its products tested at IFOS has to be pretty picky (and confident) about quality.
Testing at IFOS is not cheap – there are hundreds of small third-party labs that can test fish oil for a fraction of what IFOS charges. Most don’t even bother with third party verification because it is not required by FDA.
Why do Some Fish Oil Manufacturers Have Their Products Tested at IFOS?
Bragging rights. It’s a big deal to pass an IFOS test with flying colors.
Another reason for IFOS is transparency. All fish oil manufacturers are supposed to have something called a ‘certificate of analysis,’ which tells you what’s in the pills.
As a consumer, you ought to have access to the certificate of analysis, often called C of A. Many companies will give you the runaround – they will not share their C of A with you. This should be a red flag.
Another red flag is if the C of A tends to be too vague or sounds like a politician.
Common Examples of Vague Language in Certificates of Analyses:
- Appearance: acceptable
- Odor: normal
- Mercury: within specifications
- PCBs: conforms to standards
That’s bullsh*t! (Pardon the language.)
I’ve seen plenty of C of As that talk in circles and insult the reader’s intelligence. Granted that fish oils have far, far less mercury than fish itself, but still, consumers have a right to know EXACTLY how much mercury is in their fish oil, even if it is parts per gazillion.
View OmegaVia C of A
IFOS Reports Make it Easy
When you look at an IFOS report, you know exactly what’s in the product. There is a level of openness and detail that you will not find anywhere else.
As a customer recently told me:
“I don’t know what the heck Furan, PCBs and Dioxins are! But I know they are bad and I’m glad the IFOS folks interpret the data and rate the products on a 5-star scale.”
IFOS 5-star rating
Like movie reviews! A 5-star-rated oil is great. 2 stars or less, well, they’re stinkers. Fortunately, you won’t see ANY product with less than 4 stars because it costs money to publish the results. And why would any company pay money to embarrass itself?
In Part 2, we’ll take a look better look at the IFOS Rating Scale and why IFOS is not perfect.
* 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.