IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) was introduced in 2004 and is Nutrasource’s globally recognized certification program. The IFOS quality requirements are based on rules established by the voluntary monograph of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). The standard was developed by members of the Omega-3 working group at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the predecessor of GOED.

Will Rowe, Co-Founder and CEO of Nutrasource, told NutraIngredients-USA that the company uses a variety of references when setting its standards. The IFOS-certified process is tripartite. The products were tested using standards for active ingredient content, stability and impurities.

Three-pole test panel

Nutrasource relies on the GOED monograph for test methods and detection levels and limits. They also rely on the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for intersections and exposure points and then apply stricter standards.

“So it’s a little bit more conservative,” said Rowe. “We like to refer to and use very strong credible sources. We took that [GOED] Monograph as a type of our baseline and then used the tests listed there for what is considered quality fish oil or quality sea oil and applied that to brands. We look at essentially everything in the monograph and then look at the safe limits for PCBs, dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs, heavy metals and mercury for these toxins and poisons and examine what is considered healthy exposure to an individual per day. “

“The second area is stability,” Rowe said, noting that omega-3s are very susceptible to oxidation, which limits the shelf life of fish oil. “Stability is a big problem with marine oils. Stability is an issue with all fatty lipid ingredients and lipid-based products. For this reason, there are many guidelines and regulations regarding the stability of food, cosmetics, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals. “

The third test panel checks whether the product contains the amount and certain types of omega-3 fatty acids stated on the label.

“What ingredients do consumers see on the bottle and does what is in the bottle match what consumers see on the label?” Explained Rowe.

Put power in the hands of the consumer

Nutrasource works with a network of manufacturer-qualified laboratories that use high-tech testing methods so that consumers can track their supplements.

“In this way, consumers can look up the exact batch number in a product report and trace it back to what they and their families are feeding themselves. You can view the exact lot number or lot number on the bottle, as well as the test results that we tested and coordinated for that particular SKU, ”explained Rowe. “It’s a way-too-much testing program and our brands usually adhere to it.”

Research savvy

“From a consumer perspective, all of the new data shows that Millennials and Gen Z are really focused on researching their products, even though we started some of these programs many years ago. And because they are so knowledgeable about technology and online research, there is a real turnaround. There is definitely a big trend in the way shopping is studied. Not only will you differ from what a company says, but you will want third-party verification. These third-party test-based certification programs really help them make informed decisions, and as long as you have internet access, our platform is completely free for the consumer and the industry can demonstrate its consistency. “Rowe remarked.

Today, thousands of products around the world bear the IFOS certification mark. Rowe said the company has up to 150 brands in the marine oil space worldwide on a consistent basis from different levels of the supply chain.

According to Rowe, the IFOS program enables consumers to see the legacy of commitment to quality for their brands.

“We’re here to present to consumers. Yes, we’re a for-profit company, but it’s the industry that pays for testing. “

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