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Originates defends sustainable fish oil supplements

By Mike Stones , 18-Dec-2009
Last updated on 21-Dec-2009 at 12:36 GMT2009-12-21T12:36:10Z

Originates, producer of the EssentiOmega line of fish oil ingredients, has slammed a New York Times article which claimed that fish oil supplements are a major contributor to depleting supplies of menhaden, a fish that plays a key role in the ecosystem of the eastern US coastline.

Leslie van der Meulen, Originates director of sales told NutraIngredientsUSA.com: “The author’s concern about the depletion of an important part of the ecosystem is admirable, however, focusing the problem on fish oil capsule consumption when that fish is not the primary source of fish oil and is more commonly used in other ways (animal feed, cosmetics, etc.) could well have the unintended consequence of encouraging people not to take this beneficial dietary supplement.”

Omega-3 supplements

His comments refer to Paul Greenberg’s article A Fish Oil Story which alleged that: “Today, hundreds of millions of pounds of them (menhaden) are converted into lipstick, salmon feed, paint, “buttery spread,” salad dressing and, yes, some of those omega-3 supplements you have been forcing on your children. All of these products can be made with more environmentally benign substitutes.”

Meulen responded: “To imply that only one fish would be used for encapsulated fish oil consumption is absolutely wrong and in one fell swoop potentially discredits the work that is being done by ourselves, GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3) members, universities and governments across the globe.”

The health benefits of fish oil range from cardiovascular to brain health to mood benefits due to its omega-3 fatty acid profile.

Essential fatty acids

“Fish oil can come from various sources but the key message is that EPA and DHA make a difference in people’s lives,” concluded van der Meulen. “EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids, GOED is petitioning the US government to establish an RDI (recommended daily intake) for EPA and DHA, a step which will confirm their essential presence in everyone's daily diet.”

A similar move is on the verge of being agreed in the European Union.

For reasons of purity and environmental impact, most companies, like Originates, derive their fish oil from small species with high reproductive cycles and relatively short life spans such as anchovy and sardine, said the company.

It sources fish oil from anchovy stocks harvested off Peru, under the control of the Peruvian government, not much larger menhaden caught in US waters. Peruvian and Chilean fish oil is a bi-product of the fish meal industry and only about 20 percent is used for human consumption with the rest is used in aquaculture, according to the company.

It further added that it has no connection with Omega Protein of Houston, the company Greenberg alleged to be overfishing menhaden.

No one from Omega Protein was available for comment before publication.

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