Watchdog criticises fish oil content claims

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am

Some fish oil and liver dietary supplements contain much less Omega-3 fatty acid than they claim, the consumer watchdog said yesterday.

And it said just two meals of fish a week would provide enough for the average person.

Many people in Hong Kong consumed the dietary supplements because of the proven health benefits of Omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the Consumer Council said.

In the latest issue of Choice magazine, the council said a number of the 28 samples it tested contained significantly less DHA and EPA than claimed on the ingredient lists.

In one of the most notable cases, a fish-liver-oil supplement called Kiwi House Artic South-J contained 88 per cent less EPA than claimed, council spokesman Ambrose Ho said.

'The EPA test result on the product indicated an amount of 29.6mg per capsule compared with 240mg each stated on its label,' he said.

Another sample, Nature's Fruit Alaska Deep Sea Fish Oil Omega-3, contained only 26mg of DHA per capsule while claiming each contained 90mg.

The council has passed the discrepancies on to the authorities for further action.

Medical professionals consulted by the council agreed that the consumption of fish and fish oil could potentially reduce cardiovascular problems and lower blood pressure.

'However, the experts warn that an excessive intake of Omega-3 could also lead to gastrointestinal problems,' Mr Ho said.

He added that the daily recommended intake of DHA and EPA was 3 grams.

'In fact, if one eats two meals of fish they can obtain enough Omega-3.'

The Department of Health advises people they can absorb enough DHA and EPA from a balanced diet and warned that children, pregnant woman, patients with chronic diseases and those taking cardiac drugs should consult doctors before taking health supplements.