The complexity of the global supply chain in fish oil is a daunting problem in the omega-3s sector, when traceability concerns are considered. Oliver Kromer, of the German firm IOI (Imperial Öl Import), who addressed attendees of the biannual meeting of the Global Organization of EPA and DHA Omega-3s, used the food scandal in the EU a few years back as an example of what can go wrong. In that case horse meat ended up being sold as hamburger. A complicated supply chain, with meat originating with a Romanian supplier that processed both beef and horse meat (horse meat, when properly labeled, features in a number of European cuisines without stigma) and insufficient checks and balances along the way figured into the story.
The supply chain for fish oil looks similar, Kromer said. His purported case study included a broker in the Netherlands, supply partners in Morocco and Peru, extraction in Peru and additional refining in France, and encapsulation and bottling and labeling in the United States. The risk of accidental or intentional adulteration multiplies with each step, Kromer said.
“In each step along the way companies are issuing documents,” Kromer said. “Keeping all that straight can be a challenge.”
The issue is common across the supplement industry and has gathered steam in the past year starting with the first shot across the bow from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. One answer has been almost universal to dealing with the negative press fallout: Be transparent about where you get your material and how you make sure you are getting the right stuff. The topic has never been more timely, and will be addressed in the NutraIngredients-USA Transparency in Dietary Supplements online forum to be held this Thursday, Feb. 11, at 11 AM Eastern time. The hour-long session will explore questions such as what transparency really means, how difficult it is to achieve, and who ultimately benefits. It also explores how the rising tide of transparency might change the industry, putting pressure in particular on traditional ingredient brokers for whom a certain level of confidentiality about their sources of supply may no longer be appropriate in the modern marketplace.
The forum, moderated by this author, includes the following speakers:
Robert Craven, CEO of Food State, makers of the Megafood line of whole food supplements, who has made transparency and traceability a core part of the brand’s message;
Jim Emme, CEO of NOW Foods, a company that was built on delivering quality at a mid-level price point and as such has had to deal for years with questions about how it has been able to do that and where it sources reasonably-priced ingredients;
Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition
Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance
Suzanne Shelton, principal of the Chicago-based firm The Shelton Group, who has long advocated for increasing industry transparency
To register for this FREE forum, CLICK HERE.