Chinese oil imports actually account for less than 3 per cent of the total but almost 90 per cent of the capsules imported. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Fish oil industry defends itself whilst criticizing Chinese oil producers
Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 01:40 (GMT + 9)
Fish oil industry representatives have simultaneously rejected the Kansas City Star reports claiming that Chinese fish oil imports pose health dangers to consumers and recognised that the quality of some Chinese products is lacking.
The Kansas City Star reported that Chinese fish oil products make about 20 per cent of the US market even though China was "notorious for hazardous products."
"There have been no safety issues related to the imports of Chinese fish oils," stated Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3s (GOED).
However, he stressed that, as opposed to in which country the oil is produced, the most significant issue is that it gets manufactured under proper quality control processes, reports NutraIngredients-USA.com.
"There are a lot of good fish oils produced in China but also some that we would prefer are manufactured with better controls in place," he told. "We would like to see more of the Chinese industry embrace the tradition of high quality that has helped contribute to the growth of the industry.”
The Council for Responsible Nutrition agreed with Ismail, reiterating that the quality of production trumps origin.
"Asking about the country of origin is the wrong question. The question should be what are the quality management systems in place and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) used by suppliers regardless of what country they are based and are these adequate," said Duffy MacKay, vice president scientific and regulatory affairs.
When producing products for sale in the US, foreign manufacturers must adhere to US GMPs.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) operates branches in both China and India so it can examine the countries’ manufacturing standards. The body also collaborates with customs to inspect regulated imported products when they reach the US.
MacKay said that, although these foreign manufacturers are early in the process, the objective is to hold them to the same standards to which US-based companies are held.
Regarding the claim that Chinese fish oil imports make up 20 per cent of the US market, Ismail argued it’s deceptive.
"The indication is misleading because very little of this oil is refined in China. Most is refined in North America and Europe and then shipped to China to be encapsulated and then to the US to be bottled," he elaborated.
Chinese oil imports actually account for less than 3 per cent of the total but almost 90 per cent of the capsules imported.
"This means that almost all of the 80 per cent of the volume [the publication] said was not coming from China was being imported into the US as bulk oil and being encapsulated here," Ismail clarified.
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By Natalia Real