An effective new method to check fish oil capsule quality

19 December 2019

Fish oil capsules are known to offer health benefits and are a popular supplement purchase. However, because omega-3 fatty acids are prone to oxidation and deterioration on exposure to heat and light, the quality of store bought capsules is uncertain.

Plant & Food Research and the University of Otago tested fish oil capsules using a portable handheld device based on laser technology to analyse the concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  The study found that the device offers a rapid, low-cost, non-destructive means of analysing concentrations of the fatty acids.

Scientists found that 14 out of 15 commercial samples of New Zealand fish oil capsules met Australian and New Zealand regulatory requirements around label claims, suggesting that New Zealand fish oils are generally good quality. 

The device could be used throughout the production process, including point-of-sale, to check product quality and ensure consumers get their money’s worth. 

This study was funded by the New Zealand Ministry for Business and Innovation (Grant number C11X1307).

Journal Reference:

Killeen DP, Card A, Gordon KC, Perry NB 2019 First Use of Handheld Raman Spectroscopy to Analyze Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Intact Fish Oil Capsules. Applied Spectroscopy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003702819877415