Important Update on Cod Liver Oil
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Important Update on Cod Liver Oil


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An independent analysis of Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil suggests that it may not live up to its claims. But is the analysis sound? Get the nitty gritty details and my recommendations.

best cod liver oil
One of the best ways to get a daily dosage of cod liver oil is in capsule form. obewon/iStock/Thinkstock

As many of you know, I’ve long been an advocate of cod liver oil. In addition to being a good source of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, it’s rich in vitamins A and D, which are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet.

For several years I’ve recommended Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) from Green Pasture. I took this product myself, and my wife took it throughout her pregnancy and while she nursed our daughter, Sylvie. I recommended it to my patients, readers, podcast listeners, and friends and family.

About a year ago, I received an email from a new company called Rosita Real Foods regarding a new cod liver oil product (called Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, or EVCLO) that they were bringing to market. Leading up to the launch of their product, they sent out a series of emails explaining how it is manufactured, processed, tested, and produced.

I was impressed by their transparency: they provided test results for fatty acids, vitamins, dioxins & PCBs, rancidity, and oxidation by-products on their website, along with a list of institutions that performed the testing as well as the dates of the tests.

As soon as the EVCLO product became available, I ordered some. I noticed right away that it smelled, looked, and tasted fresh. This, together with Rosita’s transparency and third-party testing, was enough to convince me to switch over to EVCLO and begin recommending it to my tribe.

Independent Analysis of Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Last weekend I received an email from Kaayla Daniel, a nutritionist who has been involved with the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) for many years. She had grown increasingly suspicious of the Green Pasture product recently, and she requested that the WAPF conduct independent analysis of it to determine whether it lived up to its claims. The WAPF voted not to conduct this testing, so Kaayla took matters into her own hands.

My take on the recent report on Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

The result is a 110-page report with test data from multiple independent laboratories both in the United States and abroad with expertise in testing marine oils and nutrient levels. You can read the full report for free here. But in short, these were the conclusions from her report:

  • One of the three batches of FCLO that were tested was found to be rancid, based on free fatty acid values.
  • Levels of vitamins D, A, and K are lower than Green Pasture claims on its website.
  • DNA testing of the livers purportedly used to make FCLO suggests that it is not made from cod, but from Alaskan pollock. Oils from Alaskan pollock liver have a different nutritional and fatty acid profile than those from cod livers (which explains the next finding).
  • While all other cod liver oil products contain more DHA than EPA, FCLO contains more EPA than DHA. This EPA-to-DHA ratio is consistent with what you would find in Alaskan pollock liver oil.

Kaayla’s report certainly raises a number of issues that deserve attention. However, I do have some concerns about the data she presents. They arose out of research I did over the weekend, as well as discussions with colleagues in the fields of biochemistry, nutritional science, and lipid science.

Are the Fat-Soluble Vitamin Tests Results Reliable?

Testing for fat-soluble vitamin levels is incredibly complex and not yet standardized. I am concerned that the approach to quantifying them in Kaayla’s report was oversimplified. This is based on communications I’ve had with Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a nutritional scientist and an expert in fat-soluble vitamins.

Chris has noted that there are likely at least half a dozen (if not more) vitamin D compounds in cod liver oil, and it may be that the preponderance of biological activity comes from compounds other than vitamin D3 or D2. (This is the case with cow’s milk, where most of the vitamin D activity comes from 25(OH)D and very little comes from vitamin D.)

In fact, one vitamin D expert has remarked that a scientist could spend an entire career simply characterizing the factors responsible for the vitamin D activity in cod liver oil. Clearly there’s a lot more to this than comes across in Kaayla’s report.

This may explain why Dave Wetzel, the owner of Green Pasture, has been attempting to quantify the fat-soluble vitamin content of FCLO for many years but has never been entirely successful. It seems that there are many different vitamin-D-like or vitamin-K-like compounds in FCLO (and other cod liver oils) that cannot be easily measured with current analytical methods. Measuring the biological activity of vitamin D compounds by feeding the substance in question to rats may be a better method of determining vitamin D content than quantifying the levels of D2 and D3. (Green Pasture did this kind of testing in 2009, and the results indicated that FCLO contained roughly 400 IU of vitamin D per tsp, which is in line with what you would expect for cod liver oil.)

Is FCLO Really Rancid?

If FCLO were truly rancid, we would expect to see very low levels of EPA and DHA in the oil. Once fatty acids (like EPA and DHA) undergo peroxidation, they cannot be regenerated from their peroxides. However, on page 102 of Kaayla’s report, the lab results show that FCLO has approximately 315 mg/tsp of DHA and 685 mg/tsp of EPA, for a total EPA/DHA content of 1,000 mg. According to Rosita’s website, EVCLO has approximately 1,200 mg of EPA/DHA combined. So, while the batch of FCLO tested in Kaayla’s report contained less EPA/DHA than EVCLO, it still contained a substantial amount—which would not be expected if the oil were rancid as claimed.

The claim that FCLO is rancid was based on high levels of free fatty acids found in the oil. Kaayla suggests that this is an accurate way to determine rancidity in marine oils. However, according to most lipid scientists, hydrolysis of triglycerides and other esterified lipids into free fatty acids is completely unrelated to oxidation and is therefore not an accurate measure of rancidity.

Instead, TOTOX, anisidine, MDA, and TBA/TBARS are better indicators of whether an oil is rancid. In Kaayla’s report, FCLO received good scores from all of the labs on TOTOX, and all but one lab (which was not able to obtain a result at all) on anisidine. Two of the labs reported normal TBA values. One lab reported a TBARS value that was high, and another reported an MDA value that was 10 times higher in FCLO than in other cod liver oils.

These results are somewhat mixed. The majority suggest that FCLO is not rancid, while two of the test results suggest that it is. I think more investigation is needed on this before any firm conclusions are drawn.

Variability in Test Results from Lab to Lab

There was significant variability in test results from lab to lab and test to test. The samples Kaayla sent in for testing had manufacture dates ranging from 2012 to 2014. It’s conceivable that Green Pasture changed its production methods during that period of time, which could explain the variation in the results.

Another possibility—and one that is likely—is that the variability is at least in part explained by different methodologies and techniques used by different labs. Unfortunately, this is difficult to verify and investigate further because Kaayla was not able to name the labs in her report (due to legal agreements).

Though this seems to be common practice in this field, I feel that the omission of the names of the labs that performed the analysis weakens the reliability of the findings. Given the known complexities involved in this kind of testing, as well as the variability between labs, it’s unfortunate that we can’t ascertain which lab did which tests. This isn’t a criticism of Kaayla, because I imagine it was beyond her control, but I do see it as a downside.

Summary and Recommendations

Kaayla’s report does raise some concerns, but clearly there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. Rather than viewing her report as the final word, I hope that it’s the spark for an informed and forthright investigation into the issues that she has raised.

Green Pasture has issued a preliminary response here. Interestingly, it makes some of the same points I have made in this article (that biological activity may be a better measure of vitamin D content than quantifying D2 or D3 levels, and that free fatty acids are not an accurate measure of rancidity in marine oils). They are also working on a more detailed response, which I look forward to reading.

One of the lingering issues that Kaayla raised in her report is the finding that the livers used to make FCLO were not from cod, but from Alaskan pollock. I certainly hope Green Pasture addresses this in their upcoming response.

Frankly, I feel that I don’t have the information I need to make a clear decision about whether to continue recommending FCLO. I am in touch with several people with expertise in marine oils, lipid science, and nutritional biochemistry in an attempt to better understand the implications of Kaayla’s report. I will report back to you as I learn more.

In the meantime, I do feel confident in recommending EVCLO from Rosita Real Foods. As mentioned above, they are transparent about their manufacturing process, they post independent lab results (including the names of the labs that performed the tests) on their website, and their product smells, tastes, and looks fresh. They also have an extensive FAQ with answers to many questions about their product and process.

How Concerned Should You Be If You’ve Been Taking Green Pasture FCLO?

Kaayla’s report identifies some issues that deserve further attention, including lower-than-reported levels of vitamins A, D, and K, possible rancidity, and a different ratio of EPA to DHA than would typically be found in cod liver oil.

However, it’s worth pointing out that I have numerous patients whose health noticeably improved after taking FCLO. I’ve heard similar reports from hundreds of readers and podcast listeners, as well as from women who went through my Healthy Baby Code program. In fact, my wife would count herself among this group, and if you search around on the internet, you’ll find testimonials from many people with similar stories.

So, while I do think this report warrants more investigation, I don’t think it is cause for panic. I will continue to investigate this issue and update you when new information becomes available.

Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a nutritional scientist with expertise in fat-soluble vitamins, published his preliminary thoughts on Kaayla’s report. It’s worth reading.


Join the conversation

  1. It’s very easy to chop and pulverize liver and incorporate it into everyday foods. You can put a LOT of liver in your favorite chili before it starts tasting of liver.

    • True! And kidney, but that’s another story, eh?

      I actually love the taste of chicken livers and eat them at least once a week. Fried in butter and mixed in rice. MmmMM

    • Would they have the same fatty acid profile? (High omega-3, more DHA than EPA)? If from conventionally raised animals, certainly not. If pastured??

    • Without and reasoning, research or facts, this is pure trolling. Do you wish to add anything real to the conversation?

  2. Some of these comments bring up other issues. For one thing health is more than taking a supplement as we all know. A supplement may/may not be indicated if a person is tested to be low in a vitamin such as A or D. Health is not so simple as just taking a supplement or pill to adjust something in the body.

  3. Great article. I appreciate how you are always willing to investigate and reevaluate your opinions and recommendations when it’s warranted.

    I look forward to further info on this. I had a tough time trying to figure out what sort of fish oil/cod liver oil/other source of EPA & DHA to take. Due to genetic lipid problems, I need amounts higher than I could get from just eating seafood.

    I was glad to see mentioned in the comment above that Pollack is a pretty clean source. My functional doctor has me taking fish oil pills made from Pollack and Pacific whiting. It does have a higher amount of EPA than DHA, which I am a little concerned about.

    Any opinions about Calamarine oil (made from squid), like Dr. Steven Sinatra recommends, that has more DHA than EPA?

  4. Thank you for always approaching every subject with a calm and collected manner! Your advice always has caution where it needs it, and more than one or two research sources, which I greatly appreciate. This is analysis is really helpful for those of us that are not sure how to read lab reports to the best degree!

  5. What about her concerns that it is not possible to “ferment” either the livers themselves or the resulting oil. By definition fermentation involves micro-organisms feeding on sugars. Liver has extremely tiny amounts of carbohydrates and the oil has none? How is this product ‘fermented’?

    • There are definitely several concerns that her report brought up that haven’t been addressed by Green Pasture (or anyone else) yet. One of the more troubling ones is that it’s not cod liver oil, but Alaskan pollock liver oil, that is being sold. Another is that GP has never been completely transparent (as far as I know) about their fermentation process. The reason given has been to protect a trade secret, but at this point I think we need more than that.

      • Alaskan Pollock is a codfish. There are a lot of fish in the cod family & this is one of them. Common names do not always reflect this. Sometimes there may be several common names for a plant or a fish. (I am an aquaria buff. It can be confusing. )

        • Marty, you’re right, but only recently so. I found that the announcement of it being moved to the cod family was made in January 2014. We don’t know when GP started using them though. And common acceptance or even scientific fact doesn’t really matter in this instance. In addition to full disclosure in labeling – an ethical issue – the FDA has not yet made it legal to market Alaska Pollock as cod. When they do make it legal, you will likely never see Pollock marketed anywhere again and you’ll see a lot more cod available, when people are able to put a premium name on a much cheaper product.

          • It changed names formally back in 2013, I think. I think that the FDA only looks at food supplements for problems or hazards. So, it’s not illegal to call this cod fish a cod fish in this instance, as I understand it. Also, it’s my understanding that it is not uncommonly used by other CLO manufacturers. Also, apparently GP uses the Pollock when supplies of Pacific Cod are low- a relatively small % of their production. I personally have no problems with the use of either.

            • You may be correct. It remains to be seen. I actually called the FDA though, and was told repeatedly that in such a case as this it would be “misleading”, and was finally told that it was “mislabeled”. Admittedly it was a seafood safety officer and not a nutritional supplement expert (had to negotiate their call center system a couple of times for them to figure out enough to get me to him), but he told me he would talk to the nutritional supplement department and call me back if he found out anything different. He never called. But the fact that there could be legal fraud involved, and GPP was unaware of it until this all broke and they ended up talking to lawyers, could be a reason they have not themselves formally admitted to using pollock.

      • If somebody says it is impossible to ferment cod liver in order to make fermented cod liver oil, they are wrong.

        I live in Norway, and I make my own fermented cod liver oil using this method.

        • Norwegian woman – would you mind sharing your process with us? I think there are many folks who would like to try doing this on their own, for the cost savings alone. Thank you!

      • Or that the oil contains 3% trans-fats, indicating that it is probably adulterated with vegetable oils.

        • Right. Chris I didn’t read that you commented on the possible presence of vegetable oil in the GP FCLO. I think it is important for there to be a discussion of that issue. Also I see this as a major labeling problem. If the GP product is made from pollock livers and has vegetable oil, then the label on the bottles is incorrect.

          Chris, can you comment on the added vegetable oil issue?

      • I think you are way out of line here Chris. This single article by Dave Wetzel shuts down every negative insinuation and comment in your article:

        And this is but a small fraction Dave’s writings that are available at Green Pasture and other sites around the world.

        When it comes to understanding vitamin A, D, K2, FCLO, lab testing, and such, Dave has demonstrated a level of expertise that is far beyond even your own vast and impressive knowledge. You should be speaking to him, looking at his writing, rather than passing judgement and making insinuations. The report from Dr. Kaayla Daniel is completely bogus, and contradicts a long standing large body of work that is readily available on the Green Pasture website and elsewhere.

        You have used Green Pasture products with great success for years, and yet you are not aware of the vast amount of knowledge on their website. You insinuate that Rosita is more transparent, but that is absolutely not the case. The information provided by Dave Wetzel dwarfs that from Rosita.

        You owe it to yourself and your community to look at this much more closely. Digest everything on the Green Pasture website and then tell me what you think about Dr. Daniel’s report.

        • I agree w/ Victor. Also, don’t forget that Chris makes a profit if you buy the Rosita CLO. Look at how much power Chris has; the capability to black list an entire company if he wants to.

          • I think this is a very important point that you raise Emmy; that Chris is blacklisting Green Pasture, whether intended or not. I do commend him for his efforts in responding so fast to the issue, but he was off the mark and has done a lot of damage. Let’s hope that he rectifies the situation with a followup.

        • I just read the link above. What a crock of…
          Mr. Wetzel claims he’s using a lacto-fermenting process. Now, I’d like someone to explain me, how do you lacto-ferment liver and oil?? You need carbs to lacto-ferment anything!
          Better yet, he goes on to explain that the nasty aftertaste is nothing else but a ‘sting’ due to lacto-fermented nature of the products! How about comparing a sauerkraut sting versus a rancid oil ‘sting’?? The taste of rancidity is unmistakeable. It seems common sense these days isn’t very common – I’d say, if it tastes off, it is off!

          • You are grossly misinformed MFV, as any search will show you that lacto-fermenting meat and fish is an ancient and cherished process.

            Many of the most nutritious foods in the world taste and smell worse than FCLO, and taste is a matter of… taste. I have family members that can eat FCLO like ice cream, while others gag. Everyone is different.

            In addition, there is confusion here about the term rancid. We generally use it to mean that something has ‘gone bad’ and is not fit for consumption. However, that is not the dictionary definition, and is not used by everyone in that context. When something is rancid, it has what is generally considered a foul smell and taste, and is in a state of decomposition, or similarly bioactive. All fermented food fall under this technical definition, but not the common definition.

            Thus, FCLO, natto, kimchi, etc. are technically rancid, but highly desirable for consumption, and therefore not rancid by common definition. I hope that helps.

            Nobody has any valid reason to be attacking Green Pasture or Dave Wetzel, so I suspect ulterior motives when I see such attacks.

            • Lacto-fermenting can ONLY be done using some sort of a carb, and while it is possible to facto-ferment meat, it can only be done by adding sugar to the brine. Mr Wentzel has gone on record to say that he does not use any sugar in his brine, thus he cannot be lacto-fermenting his pollock livers. Apart from that, I would love to see some sort of support as to his claims of the traditional medicinal use of the brown sludge versus fresh, golden cod liver oil. It appears that the former was indeed extracted, but not for human consumption, but for lamp oil and paint. As for rancidity – the acrid taste of oil gone rancid is very specific, although it can be masked by added flavors. However, I have yet to find the stinkiest cheese or natto (both of which I happen to love) to replicate that sensation.
              The fact of the matter is that fish oils in general are very fragile and are notorious for spoiling easily. I would love to find out just how ‘lacto’ fermenting for months at a time can preserve them. If I am mistaken, please enlighten me.

              • Umm… Chris has already explained here in this article that the GP FCLO is not rancid. He did a pretty good job of dismantling Dr. Daniel’s findings, so I am not sure why you still want to discuss rancidity. The fact remains that no testing has ever confirmed GP FCLO to be rancid.

                I’m no expert on fermentation, and I no nothing about GP trade secrets, but maybe someone else has an answer for your question about lacto-fermentation.

                As for taste and reactions, everyone is very different. It is quite entertaining to pass around a jar of the stuff at a party and watch the wildly different reactions 😉

              • MFV, can you cite where Mr. Wetzel said he doesn’t use any sort of sugars in his fermentation process? One of his posts about the topic I have read, where he talks about similar traditional fermentation processes does list adding sugar to the fish broth.

        • Yes Chris,
          I have been taking GP FCLO for years based on your recommendations. I trusted you and have been spending hundreds of dollars to purchase their high quality products. I don’t appreciate you jumping ship and scaring your community just to get a new commission from Rosita. I am very disappointed in your actions.

          • Marcia,
            Information changes. Years ago I thought that eggs are not healthy due to cholesterol and I avoided all fat. I have learned since that I was wrong.

      • Chris,
        How do you feel about Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil? It seems to be the freshest possible. It’s values are marked on every label and even poor people can afford it.

  6. What about Nutrapro International cod liver oil? It is a little less expensive and almost the same in guessing?

    • I believe the vitA in Carlson’s and a lot of other brands is synthetic and is added in a post-processing step because the original vitamin is removed in the heating.

    • I am still wanting to know if Calson’s is inferior, or if it’s just a money-trail thing. It is the most accessible brand for me, yet I don’t want to be buying synthetics, etc.

  7. I had my blood work done when just beginning to take GPFCLO and after 9 months taking it. My vitamin d and a levels were very low in the beginning. After 9 months, we retested and it increased my vit d and a levels so high that I was reaching toxicity for vit a. I was told to stop immediately. I asked Another homeopath opinion of the GP fclo and he said the only reason he didn’t recommend it is that there were no vit d/a content level listed on the bottle at all and he couldn’t prescribe it not knowing how much was in it.
    I ended up switching doctors for unrelated reasons, and he was the third to agree to put the fclo on pause. However all doctors had advocated the same pure good source of fish oils from genestra brand called super efa.
    I’m going to keep reading up on how wapf is reacting.

        • For the record, that’s significantly higher than either GP or WAPF recommends, I’m not surprised it put your levels up way too high. The max recommendation is 2 teaspoons per day, but that’s only for pregnant or nursing mothers. Everybody else is recommended 1 teaspoon

        • That is a huge dose if you mean 2 tablespoons per day. I think their recommended dose is more like 1/2 tsp per day.
          I also think there is more chance for Vit A overdose if you eat liver weekly.

          • Yes it’s a high dose. It was the doctor prescribed dose due to my severely low levels and my desire to prepare my body for pregnancy so it was the dose the doctor decided for me.
            It did the job of increasing my vit d and a levels very well. I’m not complaining, I’m pretty happy about that actually.
            Just sharing my small story.

        • Lisa, if this is the infused, 1 tb should be fine, but otherwise it sounds high.

  8. A leveled point of view. But I am curious as to why neither Green Pastures, The Healthy Home Economist, or this article, have addressed the issue of the livers used test negative for cod DNA. None of the rebuttals have addressed the high presence of trans-fats in the oil either. Those are serious concerns to me. It is one thing to pay $40 for a cup of high quality cod-liver oil, another is to pay the same for a cheap substitute.

  9. Chris,
    The following statement is inaccurate:
    “If FCLO were truly rancid, we would expect to see very low levels of EPA and DHA in the oil.”
    It only takes a fraction of a percent of oxidized Omega-3 to make a product rancid and unpalatable. It takes quite a bit of atmospheric exposure and thermal abuse to reduce the EPA and DHA content by a couple of percent. This can contribute significantly to oxidative stress.
    However, you’re right that free fatty acids (FFA) are not a good indicator of rancidity. This is because you can have unoxidized free monoglycerides that are also measured as FFA. Some oxidation byproducts are fatty acids and they’re lumped in with the wholesome monoglycerides.
    What typically happens with fish oils is that you see a rise in peroxide value during the first few months. These peroxides are then converted to ‘Anisidine’ compounds over time. Practically, this means that a product with low Anisidine is not aged. Once fish oil has low peroxide and high Anisidine, this means the oil is old. This all goes out the window if the oil is flavored with citrus oils. The aldehydes in citrus oils are falsely measured as oxidation products.
    Disclosure: I studied lipid chemistry and my thesis was on lipid oxidation. I’ve been eating Paleo/ancestral since before it was hip. I own a company that makes and sells fish oil, K2 among other things. I analyzed FCLO many years ago and found it to be rancid and high in environmental pollutants. I’ve been trying to stop friends and family from taking FCLO ever since. I have a blog about Omega-3 and nutrition (who doesn’t?) but chose not to publish my FCLO findings because of conflict of interest related loss of credibility.
    Having said that, I’ve been deeply disturbed by the unquestioning endorsement of FCLO by ancestral nutrition thought leaders. Yes, FCLO can have some fat-soluble vitamins. But there are better sources of these vitamins without the oxidative burden and environmental pollutants. The risk/benefit ratio of FCLO does not make sense to me at all.
    I have not analyzed the new Alaskan Pollock liver oils. These are relatively clean, fresh, and the Pollock fishery is highly regulated. There isn’t much risk with Pollock products as long as it is not exposed to light, heat, or air. Pollock liver oil is widely sold in the US as fish oil supplements – it’s good stuff but has a little more PCBs than Peruvian Anchoveta oils.
    I’ve known this report was in the making for a while. Had Kaayla Daniel released such a report several years ago (when paleo folks were first falling in love with FCLO), it would have been a lot more damning.
    If we’re after Omega-3 and fat-solubles, it’s time we went back to eating fish, pastured eggs, liver, hard cheese, and fats/butter from animals that have recently grazed on growing green grass.
    FCLO (or other supplements) is not the answer. Hearing that from someone who owns a supplement company may be relevant.

    • This comment came from two separate lipid scientists at prominent U.S. universities. Clearly there is a lot of controversy about what markers should be used to determine rancidity. That is why I’m suggesting more investigation before coming to a conclusion.

      • Free fatty acids are not a good direct measure of oxidative rancidity, but they are a great marker for oxidative changes.

        For example, you can’t tell if an oil is rancid simply because it has FFAs, but you most certainly can tell that an oil has gone rancid if you tested it when fresh and it had little FFAs, but that same oil had high FFAs after 4 years on the shelf.

        Since FCLO has gone rancid before ever being bottled, there is no way to determine the baseline FFA level, making bottled FFA measurements not very valuable.

    • Mr. Kutty,

      I am heartened by your endorsement of getting all of our nutrients from real foods.

      Perhaps I should ask my doctor, or a qualified nutrition expert but I would like to ask you, Mr. Kresser, and other highly educated here:
      What about old people, and others who may be ill, de-conditioned, or sarcopoenic.?
      or genetically disposed to high levels of LDL particles?

      Wouldn’t added fish oils from clean areas of our oceans be advisable?

      • Hi Jane – Chris has written extensively about LDL particles elsewhere. I have nothing to add on the matter.

        However, it is always a good idea to consume fish and pure fish oils, regardless of your age or health. Google ‘IFOS Report.’ IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) tests and publishes purity and potency results of dozens of good fish oil brands.

    • Do you have an opinion on Kerrygold grass-fed butter vs. raw butter vs. raw grassfed butter (harder to come by and more costly)?

      Also, what are your thoughts on heating Kerrygold?

      Thanks in advance –

    • I completely agree with everything Mr. Kutty wrote above. He is 99% correct. My only differing opinion is that free fatty acids are a great indicator of oxidation, but only when measuring changes over time. A one-time spot measurement is indeed quite meaningless.

      • Truth Seeker – it appears we agree on that too. 🙂 Any change in FFA% in a lipase-free environment can be interpreted as a good indicator of oxidation.

        I’ve had FRESH fish oil test high in FFA. Puzzling at first, until you realize that it was recently exposed to recent lipase activity during reesterification.

    • You have confused the pollutants testing of the Ratfish liver oil (which the report says was tested among the “alternative oils”) with the Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil. Ratfish liver oil is not EVCLO.

      • It seems that you are confused by the fact that any company with even a basic concern for quality would not have released a batch of marine oil product which had this high of levels of environmental contaminants.

        Even though it was ratfish liver oil, it shows that they have poor quality standards (or no quality standards). They clearly do not test for these contaminants in ratfish liver oil. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that they do not test for them in cod liver oil either.

        Please note that this summary did not test their cod liver oil, so it’s not like it passed their checks.

      • This article was also indirectly referring to their lack of basic quality standards for known environmental contaminants.

    • I hadn’t seen those results. The independent test results they post on their website showed low levels of both. I will contact Rosita and see what their response is.

  10. Thank you, Chris!! That is the kind of thorough and rational response I would expect from WAPF in response to the concerns and report. As always, your communication and analysis are spot on, and so very much appreciated!

  11. So if the worst case scenario is that it is/was rancid, what should we do to clean up the damage from rancid oils? How much have we harmed ourselves?

    • If you don’t feel any noticeable harm then you have not harmed yourself at all. Eating something that is “rancid” is not healthy, but it will not seriously hurt you either. The worst that could happen is you get food poisoning and throw up for a couple days.

  12. i have a concern about the keeping qualities of the EVCLO once it is opened. What evidence is there to show it doesn’t deteriorate quickly, unless frozen, maybe?

  13. I’ve used FCLO for a couple years and recently had my vitamin A level checked and it was low. I was taking it for vitamin A so not sure that it’s been helpful since I don’t know if it was a lot lower before.

  14. Would it not be far wiser to just consume large amounts of fatty fish (including, perhaps, the cod livers themselves, which are available), rather than to take the risk with supplements the quality of which is so clearly equivocal?

    It seems really foolish to take such risky supplements when you could eat animal products with DHA and EPA instead.

    • I would also add that testimonials are not really a valid basis for general supplementation recommendations. There are many anecdotes of terrible reactions to FCLO as well.

    • Fatty fish does not contain vitamin A. Cod liver oil isn’t necessary if you are eating organ meats (for vitamin A) and plenty of cold-water, fatty fish (for vitamin D, EPA & DHA). I don’t take it every day myself.

      • What about beef liver in capsule form? I’m I getting the same benefits as I would if I ate the actual beef livers?

  15. Chris,
    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis of this situation. I tried FCLO in 2012 on your recommendation and it gave me the worst migraine I had ever experienced (4 days!). I just started eating more liver instead. 🙂


  16. Given how sick FCLO made me, I’ll be avoiding it. With just one dose, I felt spacey, giddy (almost drunk), nauseous and developed a migraine. I am very sensitive to bioactive amines, though.

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