Norway warns on polluted fish oil supplements

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fish oil supplements Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins Cod liver oil Polychlorinated biphenyl

Norway investigates 'alternative' fish oil for the first time - and records first instances of contaminants in 15 years of testing
Norway investigates 'alternative' fish oil for the first time - and records first instances of contaminants in 15 years of testing
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has urged consumers to throw away three 'alternative' fish oil supplements after tests revealed they contained carcinogenic contaminants way over EU safe limits. 

The products were: 

 -Medic Marine’s cold pressed multi haiolje, extra virgin

 -Bioform’s Arctic omega sølvhaiolje

 -Rosita’s handcrafted ratfish liver oil

The results came as part of the authorities annual investigation into the safety of fish oil supplements on the Norwegian market. 

Lise Torkildsen, head of the authority's seafood section, told us the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) had conducted the test of ten products a year for about 15 years and this was the first time results had come back positive. 

However this year’s test marked a first look at the safety of ‘alternative’ fish oils mostly sold online, and the authority emphasised that ‘regular’ fish oils like cod liver oil were safe.

Product name


Total dioxine (PCDD/F)

Total dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (PCDD / F + dl-PCBs)

Total PCB6

Cold pressed Mulithaiolje, extra virgin


Not over limit

25 ng toxic equivalent/kg oil

3400 µg/kg oil

Arctic omega Sølvhaiolje


9,4 ng TE/kg oil

17 ng TE/kg oil

Not over limit

Rosita Handcrafted Ratfish liver oil


4,8 ng TE/kg oil

11 ng TE/kg oil

Not over limit

EU maximum limits 

1,75 ng TE/kg oil 

6,0 ng TE/kg oil 

200 µg/kg oil

Norwegian national limits 

1,75 ng TE/kg oil

4,0 ng TE/kg oil 

All three products contained chimaeras, also known as ratfish and a close relative of sharks. 

Torkildsen said the kind of people buying and selling these products were very "alternative"​ and the fish was by no means a common ingredient in Norwegian fish oil products. 

She said the high levels may be because the species was a deep-water predator - the higher up the food chain a fish is the higher its contaminant levels are. The authority was also investigating the cleaning practices used, which can reduce levels. 

Back in 2009 a Canadian study of 30 fish oil supplements showed all contained detectable residues of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine insecticides (OCs). Some species like shark contained higher levels than products with mixes of fish like anchovy, mackerel and sardine.


A link for the Bioform product appeared to be dead and the Medic Marine and Rosita products were marked ‘sold out’. All products were bought online but the Bioform product was also available in the shop Kinsarvik Fruktutsalg in Bergen, Torkildsen said. 

The case had now been forwarded onto the relevant authority departments where there would be contact with the companies to determine the safety of the products, cleaning processes used and whether the companies were registered to sell the fish oil in the first place. 

The companies did not respond to our request for comment in time for the publication of this article.

Next year the tests would continue to focus on these alternative products as well as more mainstream oils. 

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Posted by Daniel,

This article is defamatory, where are your sources?

Please click on the testing tab here for the actual measured levels

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Link to report?

Posted by craig,

Very interesting stuff, but do you have the original source? I've been trying to find it because blogs posts are nothing but hearsay without the original.

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