Fish oil shortage warning –

Fish oil shortage warning Published:  06 July, 2007

IT is not just cod that could be in short supply if quotas in Iceland and elsewhere keep shrinking, but also its much vaunted elixir of life – cod liver oil.

The European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) is warning that fish oil and fish oil supplements could be in short supply later this year – and the organisation is blaming EU regulations rather than over fishing or quota cuts.

The EHPM says that the only way a shortage can be avoided is for the EU to extend the November deadline for new hygiene rules. In the UK, Hull is one of Europe’s largest producers of fish oil and related products.

Speaking out on new EU requirements that all establishments producing fish oils must be officially approved by November this year, the European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said the deadline should be extended to November 2009 to allow countries adequate time to comply with the law. The hygiene rules, which came into effect in May, also state that a health certificate is needed to import fish oils for use in foods.

According to EHPM, the majority of fish oil used in the production of omega-3 and other fish oil supplements are sourced from non EU countries, such as South America, Canada, and Morocco – countries which are reported to already be in compliance with the EU’s hygiene rules. The trade association fears, however, that these various authorities will not be able to adapt their current health certificate by the requested deadline due to lengthy paperwork procedures.

EHPM Chairman Peter van Doorn said: “I fully support extending the deadline.

“The majority of existing fish oil processing facilities in certain countries will not have their establishment registered in time to meet the November deadline due to the heavy costs and procedures that this entails. This situation is likely, therefore, to have an impact on the whole EU fish oil supplement industry – there is a real risk of a shortage of fish oil sources.”

EHPM represents more than 2, 000 specialist health product manufacturers in Europe, many of whom sell fish oils. The trade association’s additional concern is that the supplement use of fish oil is much less in comparison to its use for fishmeal and other applications. It says the new EU rules could mean that some countries will not have the incentive to change their processes to comply with EU requirements.

Mr Van Doorn commented: “The deadline extension will allow time for countries to conform to EU rules.

“Sustainability for our raw materials is an important issue. We are working to support and promote the food supplement industry, so that it can grow.”

Although the jury is still out on some of the claims, many doctors believe the potential benefits of omega-3 oil is now firmly established, especially in relation to cardiovascular (heart) problems. But it also being linked to healthy child development, combating depression for general health well being. Its sales have rocketed in recent years alongside superfoods like blueberries, spinach and salmon, also rich in Omega-3, where UK sales have shot up 30 per cent to over £450-million a year. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.