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Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil The Real Deal…or a Sick Hoax?

admin August 24, 2015

Last weekend saw several of my readers freaking out because of Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s new report, “Hook, Line and Stinker!  The Truth About Fermented Cod Liver Oil.”  The report states that the popular Green Pastures‘ fermented cod liver oil is not really fermented, is in fact rancid and putrid (chemically), is adulterated with vegetable oils, and does not contain the reported vitamins and minerals.  It goes on to say that the original Dr. Weston A. Price wouldn’t have recommended it at all.

I dismissed this as a bit ridiculous…at first.  Surely if the product were not only not beneficial, but actively harmful, we’d know by now, right?  People wouldn’t be experiencing health benefits from the product and the truth would have gotten exposed long ago.

But, I owe it to my readers (and my family!) to look into the issue more, and that’s what I did.

You should know that I have no financial relationship with either Green Pastures nor competing companies.  I have been purchasing and taking the GP products for several years.  I also do not belong to either of the foundations I’ll mention, and never have.  I also do not know or have a professional relationship with Dr. Daniel or anyone else that I will name.

Let’s dive in.

Can Cod Liver Oil Be Fermented?

Let’s start with this key question: what is fermented cod liver oil?  Can cod liver oil even be fermented?

It’s been driven into us that we need more fermented foods.  That fermented foods are to be prized, because of their positive impact on our gut health.  And that’s true — real fermented products generally are beneficial to us.

However, the reason they’re beneficial is not just because they are fermented, but because they contain specific strains of beneficial bacteria.  It’s these strains that we need (that’s information for another post).  Not all fermented foods are good, either — think about a bottle of juice left in your car on a hot day!  That is fermented, but there certainly aren’t beneficial strains in it, and I wouldn’t recommend drinking it.

However, in order for fermentation to occur, and especially to produce the beneficial strains of bacteria, it requires carbohydrates.  That is, sugar or starch in some form.  We can and do ferment fruits, vegetables, and grains.  Done properly, with a true anaerobic system, it will produce high concentrations of beneficial microbes (again, information for another post).

We can’t ferment oil, though.

Fat simply doesn’t ferment.  It, instead, becomes rancid.  It oxidizes.  This damages the vitamins and minerals in the oil, and makes it potentially harmful to our bodies.

That’s exactly what Dr. Daniel is claiming has happened in the case of Green Pasture’s products.  But Green Pastures says that their products are traditionally-made and beneficial.  Which is correct?

How Was Cod Liver Oil Traditionally Made?

Both are sort of true.

From reading a well-cited history of cod liver oil production from the Price-Pottenger Nutritional Foundation (not associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation, nor any particular cod liver oil company), I’ve learned that the debate over production methods dates back to the early 1800s.

Three main methods for producing cod liver oil are described throughout the literature.

Method one: Bringing the freshly-caught fish to the shore on the same day, cutting out the liver and protecting it from oxygen and allowing the oil to naturally release, possibly with cold pressing.  This produces a very light-colored and flavored oil, and is called extra-virgin cod liver oil.

Method two: Either because sea voyages were long, or after the EVCLO was extracted, cod livers were allowed to sit in a vat for weeks at a time, essentially rotting.  As they broke down, the oil naturally rose to the top and was poured/scooped off.  This produced a dark brown cod liver oil.  (This is Green Pastures’ process.)

Method three: Heat or chemical extract, including steaming or boiling the livers, or using solvents like hexane.  Steaming or boiling produced pale to light brown oil, while solvents produced dark brown oil, which then underwent deodorizing and other processing.

Chemical solvents definitely aren’t traditional and have only been used for the last 50 – 60 years.  Prior to that, it was cold-pressing, “fermenting,” or steaming/boiling.

In the 1800s, they argued over which cod liver oil was really best.  Some found that the brown version contained more vitamins than the lighter versions.  However, the brown versions were usually used industrially, or topically — not internally.

In the 1900s, some experiments showed that the vitamins in the brown oil were damaged, and that if it was exposed to the sun, it could even cause problems in some people.  Plus, this brown oil is known to be acidic, strongly-flavored, and difficult for some people to take.

What we have to know now is, is this brown oil really that bad…or could it still be good for us?

Biomarkers of Rancidity

Have you ever tasted rancid oil?

The other week I asked for some oil for salad when I was out somewhere.  I knew that the oil wasn’t used frequently and was about a year old.  It had distinctive rancid taste/smell to it.  Liquid oils do go rancid anywhere from a few months to several months after purchase.  Oils stored in clear bottles that are exposed to heat and light might be rancid when you buy them (like vegetable oils — it’s just one reason to skip them).  Even quality oils stored in dark glass, away from heat and light, will eventually go rancid.  That was the case this particular time ( olive oil stored in a dark glass bottle; it was just too old).

Many people say that fermented cod liver oil doesn’t taste or smell rancid.  In fact, that was my first reaction when I heard about this report — I’d know!

However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

There are several actual biomarkers of rancidity.  It’s not just a smell/taste thing, it’s something that you can test.  That’s what Dr. Daniel’s report does.  She sent unopened bottles of FCLO to several different labs to test these specific biomarkers to get a clearer picture of whether or not the oil was rancid.

One of the early markers of rancidity is peroxide.  This is what tips us off to rancidity when we smell and taste a rancid oil.  Peroxide values start out very low, then increase sharply as an oil becomes rancid, and then drop back down because the peroxide is broken down further.   FCLO is at the late stages, so peroxide values are low.  This, and other markers, have been used to prove that the oil isn’t rancid.

However!  The free fatty acids are extremely high in FCLO.  That is a clear marker of rancidity.  GP claims that it is not, and that there are benefits to free fatty acids.  However, this study shows that free fatty acids in the body contribute to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes.  This study links them to obesity, heart disease, stroke, and more.  There are dozens more studies that I ran across attributing FFAs to cause insulin resistance and obesity.  There is clearly no health “benefit” to these!

On the issue of oxidation and virgin cod liver oil, Dave of Green Pastures has this to say (from the FAQs):

Virgin fish oils or ‘extra low oxidize oils’.??The production of ‘extra low oxidized oils’ differs from traditional production methods for fish oils and fish meals. Extra low oxidized oils’ are produced from materials from food operations. This can for example be material’s from food operations. This can for example be material after filleting of high quality (i.e. very fresh) salmon and herring. The raw material is processed very shortly after catching. The process involves heating to below 100Degrees C for example to a temperature around 90*95 degrees C for the time needed for the material to pass through an indirectly heated tubular scraped surface heat exchanger. The heated suspension is then separated in a suitable decanter in order to isolate the oil. The semi solid protein phase that is obtained from the same process can be valuable starting material, for example for production of marine protein hydrolysates. Because of the gentle processing conditions and selections of raw materials these oils are generally suitable for direct use as ingredients foods and beverages.??An example in Norwegian virgin cod liver oil production. The preparation for this product, including winterization, distillation, blending drumming and bottling is conducted in a manner that ensures the product is carefully processed to concentrate the healthy long chain omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids while removing the unwanted environmental chemicals ………………

I’m big on Bio-feed back testing and energetic testing. You know what is real and not real for each individual and product. I prefer this over defining a product on a label or fancy advertising. One can manipulate words and defining terms to meet a goal. But Bio-feed back testing and energetic testing can’t be fooled by words.

This is not really an answer; Dave is merely summarizing the process used to produce virgin cod liver oils (with random punctuation to show how ridiculous he finds it), then suggests that if you think it’s good, it is good, and that scientific testing isn’t actually important.

What’s This Oil Made Of?

We’re not done yet.

As I have been looking into this issue, I have researched several different cod liver oil companies from all over the world.  Some currently only sell in Iceland.  What I have noticed is that they all deliver very clear details about the fish they use and how they process it.  The fish used in most cod liver oils is the Gadus Morhua, a specific type of cod that is high in the desirable EPA and DHA fatty acids.

However, when asked where GP’s fish comes from, Dave says this (again, from the FAQs):

Ok, The question arises on the topic of location of the fish. The fish school in the northern, cold waters around the Arctic Ocean. They do not have a nationality and a fish can school for a 1000+ miles in its life. So the relevance of the specific spot the fish is cleaned is not relevant to the discussion, ‘is the fish safe to consume’.

That is…bizarre, frankly.

There’s no mention of exactly what type of fish is used or where it actually comes from.  The issue is actually skirted.  (Dr. Daniel’s report, and comments from several others I talked to, note that Dave often skirts questions about fish type, location, fermentation process, etc.)

The DNA tests in Dr. Daniel’s report show that the fish in FCLO can’t be the Gadus Morhua cod.  Rather, it is likely to be pollock (closely related to cod) or dogfish (much cheaper and often substituted for cod).  But, we don’t actually know at this point.  The lab reports aren’t conclusive and Dave isn’t saying.

There’s more to the report than I’ve shared here — it’s more than 60 pages.  Feel free to read it for yourself.

How Did This Happen?

If you’ve been taking FCLO, you probably feel about like I do — upset, frustrated, disbelieving.  This is a product I actively recommended for years, and have taken myself and given to my family.  It’s basically considered the “Gold Standard” in health supplements in the real food world.

I’m going to make this part brief, because it’s not the truly important information, but it bears mentioning.

The work of Dr. Weston A. Price has proven extremely valuable to a number of people.  I stand by the dietary recommendations based upon his work.  In fact, there’s the Price-Pottenger Nutritional Foundation dedicated to spreading these principles.  PPNF dates back to the early 1950s and is a non-profit organization that shares this information but, as far as I saw, has no financial relationship with companies that make specific products (that is definitely true for cod liver oil; I haven’t looked further).

In the late 1990s, one of the board members, Sally Fallon Morell, had a disagreement with the PPNF board over an issue, and left the foundation.  She then started the Weston A. Price Foundation in 1999.  WAPF is similarly dedicated to the principles of Dr. Price’s nutritional studies and advice.  Neither foundation actually was started by or endorsed directly by Dr. Price; they are just based on his research.

This is where it gets dicey.  According to reports from former chapter leaders in WAPF, leaders in WAPF have significant paid relationships with a number of companies, including GP.  This isn’t necessarily problematic; as a business owner, I seek out financial partnerships with companies whose mission and products I believe in and want to endorse.  I assume WAPF is doing the same.

However, many of the details of WAPF’s positions on various issues are not in line with Dr. Price’s research at all.  Dave states on GP’s site that a good dose of cod liver oil is up to 3 tablespoons per day, and that there are sources claiming 6 – 8 oz. per day is beneficial.  PPNF quotes Dr. Price’s actual work, where he states that doses should not exceed 1.5 tsp. per day.  That “3 tablespoons” suggestion exceeds Dr. Price’s recommended dose by a factor of 6.

WAPF also has an unusual and controversial positions on several other issues, including breastfeeding, and has given out poor breastfeeding advice.

According to my contact who is a former chapter leader, Morell and others in the organization lead with an iron fist, essentially kicking out people who do not agree with her positions.  Those who have called out Morell and others for recommendations that clearly go against science have been ridiculed and ignored.  The organization is extremely powerful, a central part of the real food/traditional foods movement, and has serious political issues.  Their positions are partially informed by Dr. Price’s work, and partially by Morell’s personal experiences and beliefs.

That is what occurred here.  WAPF/Morell and GP have an ongoing partnership.  WAPF has made sure that GP is seen as the top brand — so much so that all other cod liver oil companies have to field questions about how theirs compares to GP and why it isn’t fermented (from my experiences reading their FAQs plus their social media pages).  There’s no evidence that it’s specifically beneficial or that their process is safe or healthy, but Morell and GP stand firmly behind it anyway — this stubborn stance is typical of their actions on many key issues.

It’s notable that Dr. Kaayla Daniel, who issued this report, is (or was, possibly until right after this came out), the Vice President at WAPF, and that she issued the report despite being told by the other foundation members not to do so.

I’ve seen some of this occurring and have slowly distanced myself from WAPF itself over the last few years, although as I said, I continue to recommend the dietary principles from Dr. Price’s work.  This foundation is not representative of him or his work.

What About Cod Liver Oil Now?

The thing is, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  In fact, cod liver oil absolutely is beneficial.  There is a large body of evidence, both recent and historical, showing this.

There is first, Dr. Price’s work.  He shows that a small dose, 1 – 1.5 tsp. per day of equal parts cod liver oil and butter oil, are very beneficial to health.  He does caution against overdoses (the vitamin levels required from these natural foods is far less than WAPF claims).

There is also quite a lot of recent research.  This study shows that cod liver oil is anti-inflammatory.  This one shows it helps prevent upper respiratory infections.  Basically, it contains good levels of vitamins A and D, omega-3 fatty acids, and co-factors not yet discovered that make it more effective and beneficial than vitamin D supplements alone (which some health professionals now think may be dangerous, at least in excess).

I still recommend cod liver oil.

I have no idea, however, which one.  I’m aware of a few quality brands out there — I’ve found Rosita (this appears to be the most popular, behind FCLO), Carlson’s, and one called Dropi (which may not be available in the U.S. right now).  I have used Carlson’s, in the years before we were using FCLO.  I don’t have a conclusive recommendation for you at this time.  But I will figure it out because I’ll need something else to use for my family.

My original feeling, when I began looking into this issue, was that there was some missing information and FCLO was really just fine.  After all, I just bought more and I have plenty of it sitting in my fridge and cabinet now.  I’ve been taking it daily and have even shared that.

After I read for awhile, I thought, “We’ll probably finish up what we have, then look into something else.”

When I finished reading everything, I thought, “We have to stop this now, and get on some true anti-inflammatories to get rid of the effects of this stuff.” I have a whole bunch of things I now suspect may have been related to FCLO use, but I’m not going to talk about those today.  This is about the controversy, not my personal situation.  I will share that in a few weeks, though, when I have a brand to recommend to you and the whole thing’s a little clearer.  I expect Dave Wetzel of GP will issue a rebuttal within a few days, so we may address that as well.

That’s the bottom line.  Cod liver oil (or whole cod livers) can’t be fermented, it is rancid, rancid foods are high in free fatty acids that are linked to cancer and diabetes.  There is nothing beneficial about this “special process.”  Virgin cod liver oils, however, are beneficial and I’m seeking the best source as well as what to look for when evaluating a source.

How do you feel about fermented cod liver oil after these new reports?

Edit: I received the following email from a representative of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation this afternoon.  It is important to know this.

Dr. Price’s publications and research were left to the Santa Barbara Medical Research Foundation in 1952, which later became the Weston A. Price Memorial Foundation in 1965, then The Price-Pottenger Foundation in 1969, then Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation in 1973, which is who we are today.

The wishes of Dr. Price are stated here with the copyright office:

WHEREAS, it is the desire of Monica Price, widow of Weston A. Price, to ensure that all rights, including renewal rights, in and to said above works and registrations and extensions thereof are vested in the Price-Pottenger Foundation, a non-profit California Corporation, consistent with the wishes of said Weston A. Price and said Widow in carrying forth his work, and to provide an instrument suitable for recording in the records of the Copyright Office.
IN WITNESS THEREOF, the said Monica Price, widow of Weston A. Price, has hereunto set her hand and seal at Cleveland, Ohio, this 13th day of November, 1969.

Let me know if you need anything more from us as we are the source for and own the copyright to all Dr. Price’s research, publications, and 20,000 photos.

PPNF represents the work of Dr. Price, and they own it.  WAPF does neither.

**Read the follow-up post, How to Choose and Understand Cod Liver Oil, for more information.**

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81 Comments

  1. Kate,
    Thank you for addressing this. My practitioner warned me to no longer take FCLO last year. She told me a close trusted friend on the WAPF board was investigating it and there was a question if cod liver oil could ever be fermented or if it was just rancid. I am glad this information finally came out. I’ve been using Nordic Naturals ever since and it is light and pleasant. However, I am still using the Beauty Balm which is great at reducing redness from pimples or sunburns. Should I stop using that too since I use it on my skin??

    Reply

  2. Thank you for this. I always felt I was missing out by not buying fclo for my family, but each time I had the funds to buy it, I chose something else. We prefer Innate Choice, but are also very happy with Carlson’s, Garden of Life and Nordic Naturals. In that order.

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  3. Thanks for doing all this research. I used FCLO after reading about it on yours and other websites. I didn’t use it for long because it gave me a lot of stomach issues that took few months to clear up, but I always felt like I should give it another try….now I know I can stop worrying and look for something else.

    Reply

  4. I am looking into sprouted flax seed as an alternative. I don’t feel comfortable knowing if my pills/bottle is good or bad.

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  5. Hi Kate! Thanks for the post! Thank you for not being politically influenced and devoting your time to producing the honest truth! Your readers (and our health) appreciate it.

    Reply

  6. We use Rosita for our kids (which they prefer over GP), and have been taking GP for ourselves as Rosita is quite expensive to import to Canada. What are your thoughts on the Virgin Cod liver oil sold by NutraPro out of the US? Their website doesn’t state the source of the Cod.

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  7. I am also looking into Corganic as a possibility?

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  8. Thank you for clarifying this issue, and for summarizing some of the main points of the report in such an easily understandable fashion! In the past, I have been interested in some of the things Dr. Price wrote and researched about, but most of my information has come from books and blogs written by members of the WAPF, and there are so many things about the WAPF that make me angry; I stopped following a number of blogs after they made their stance on breastfeeding clear (there’s enough bad information out there on breastfeeding already; an organization devoted to health shouldn’t be spreading more!) Thank you also for emphasizing that WAPF doesn’t really represent Dr. Price.

    I don’t take any form of cod liver oil, but this definitely gives me something to think about.

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  9. Thank you for doing the studying for this! I and my children, got sick after starting on GP FCLO. I had high hopes, with teeth, health, etc. we could not take it anymore. I took it to my nutritionist/kiniesiologist. She tested it and said, it was really bad. Though it was muscle testing, she used. Since then, whenever i see stuff on FCLO, my brain says “snake oil.”
    We take cod liver oil, in our home, just not fermented.

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  10. Hey! I too am annoyed and frustrated with this new information. I search to provide myself and my family with quality products.
    With that said, I am always a little skeptical with information- as it can go to either side of the issue depending on what you read (which is frustrating in itself).
    The GP website doesn’t recommend 3T, but rather states “1/4-1/2t and some people take 1-2t”. It also states that the oil isn’t fermented, but the liver is.
    It is so difficult to get to the truth! Thanks for your post as I will continue to read and search through the information!

    Reply

    • Dosage is best discussed with your physician. Below are some general ranges you might consider:

      Fermented Cod Liver Oil
      Children age 3 months to 12 years: 1/8-1/2 tsp.
      Children over 12 years and adults: 1/2-1 tsp.
      Pregnant and nursing women: 1-2 tsp.

      Emulsified oils are made of only 80% cod liver oil, so the dosages are slightly higher.

      Fermented Cod Liver Oil & Butter Blend – 2/3 FCLO and 1/3 HVBO

      25 pounds or less: 8 drops orally a day
      25 pounds: 1/4 tsp. a day
      35 pounds: 1/3 tsp. a day
      45 pounds: 1/2 tsp. a day
      55 pounds: 2/3 tsp. a day
      ^^
      That is from the website about dosage. 🙂

      Reply

    • Yes, their official recommendation is less. I was referencing a story Dave shared about dosing on their FAQ page. He has said before they recommend less than they think due to supplement laws.

      Reply

  11. Kate, thanks so much for looking into this. I’m interested in hearing more about the health issues you suspect have been caused by this product and how you plan to detox from it. I’ve been taking the FCLO/butter blend for the past five months and am concerned now. Also look forward to hearing which cod liver oil brand you recommend in the future. Thanks again for your efforts and research!!

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  12. Thank you so much for doing all this research for us! I am furious about all of this! Seriously, I’ve always read your stuff, but you have won me over for life. Can’t wait to hear your new recommendation. We used to use Carlsons as well so that’s the only other one I know.

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  13. I just “kinda sorta happened” to stop taking FCLO. I just could not get past the taste. It was horrible. I had some that was fine. Then o read about the zlufgr in the bottom being most likely sludge and o gulped but pressed on to finish my supply. Then a new bottle was unbearable.

    For trivia sake : bc I cannot take clo without having horrible burps, my Dr actually found Barleans made from flax. I have such inflammation issues hevwanted mevon plenty and so I use the key lime omega swirl bc it contains twice the EPA/DHA

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  14. WOW. Thank you for looking into this and sharing. And you were literally writing my exact thoughts about what to do about it. Looking forward to more of your thoughts and actions.

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  15. *Mic drop*

    Well done! Thank you for researching this, even though your conclusions will likely be unpopular with some. As for myself, I might get some CLO that I actually take. Never could even come close to stomaching FCLO. I don’t know about Carlson’s CLO, but we’ve used their brand of baby vit D drops when my little was tiny, and they are very high quality.

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  16. What an interesting read. I’m not sure what to think yet. I’ve heard some of the debate before about whether FCLO is really best, or rancid. But now to have the VP of WAPF come out with this, wow. I will say I definitely believe GP FCLO has helped my family’s health. We’ve had several cavities in our family that the dentist wanted to drill, but I strived to remember to give each person a regular dose of FCLO and months later at the next checkup, the dentist said the teeth were hard! But then again, it was sorta around the same time we started using FCLO, we also began regularly using Kerrygold butter and more grass fed beef and pastured eggs, etc. I also will say my years of acne came to an end within a few weeks of using FCLO. I do wonder if there is still a lot of health benefit to the FCLO despite it perhaps not being the very best method used. A whole spoonful caused a burpy feeling the first few days, but I reduced the dose to 1/4 tsp and worked up to a spoonful again and had no burps anymore. I thought my body got used to digesting it. Well, maybe the 2 unopened bottles of Rosita EVCLO in my fridge will be even better for our health… I guess I’ll see if I notice any difference.

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  17. Thank you for posting this. I’m currently 5 months pregnant, and have been taking FCLO on and off for months. I’m a little stressed over possibly causing harm to my baby. Should I be concerned? I’m definitely going to stop taking it immediately.

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  18. Thanks for this post! I was using the FCLO for a few months and then it seemed like it “suddenly” went rancid after I didn’t use it for a few weeks. Maybe I was just noticing the real taste! Looking forward to your further research!

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  19. Thank you. I was always suspicious of the GP/WAPF connection because really? There is only ONE brand you guys recommend?? We’ve been taking Carlson’s and are happy with it.

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  20. I am waiting for more information before I make any decisions about this. I am also appalled at the unprofessional manner in which this material was presented. Why are so many so quick to jump on the bandwagon to discredit both Green Pasture and the Weston A. Price Foundation? Let’s be fair here and wait to judge until we hear their responses.

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  21. This is all very concerning to me. My son and I have been taking FCLO for years. I believe it has helped us. Our teeth are healthier, we no longer burn when we are out in the sun, and when my son stops taking it he becomes more angry and irritable. I am especially upset because I just bought three bottles during their sale this month. Since they are so expensive I don’t want to throw them away, but I don’t know what to do. I do believe I have seen benefits from taking it. Also, Kate how do you feel about the high vitamin butter oil by itself (no fclo)? Is that still a good thing to take?

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    • My son has also been taking the FCLO/HVBO blend for years. He has inherent teeth problems and lack of enamel. When he is off the oil, he will consistently get cavities. When he takes it, we always have good reports. I have also read the rebuttal and am curious now how everyone will respond. For us, it has been nothing but good. And, my son has never ever had a problem taking the blend. He doesn’t mind the taste at all. We all know that what is good for one body may not be good for another…what heals one person may make another deathly ill. That being said, I am cautiously moving forward with a decision after I do more of my own research.

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    • I have seen lots of benefits in myself, my customers, my blog readers and in my family. Only thig is that FCLO or fish oil at all should be consumed with a source of saturated fat, phytic acid, poly unsaturated fats should be avoided, and we need efficiet levels of magesium to metabolize d-vitamin. D-vitamin also works togheter with A-vit and K-vit, so the BIR series is my favorit, and also tastes better as a mix with butter oil instead of pure FCLO. My daugheter had epileptic seisures, but they stopped not when she started using the Blue Ice Royal and the FCLO, but first when she started using magnesium oil every day as well, pointing to magnesium deficiency as the reason why she did not metabolize D-vit properly and also as probably one of the main reasons for the seisures. To understand traditional foods, one need to think like nature, not like a laboratory.

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    • I too am dismayed because my husband and I looked at the sale thought “well is just a real hassle to run out and the cold and flu season is coming soon” (we live in a northern climate) so we ordered 11 bottles – it cost us over $400 with shipping. I think we can send them back and they just will charge us a restocking fee of $30…we’re considering doing that. Personally I think they should waive the restocking fee with all the controversy that’s going on!

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  22. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for providing a very useful summary of the central points from Dr. Daniel’s lengthy report. I made my way through 41 pages of it, and am already convinced that FCLO is a pretty sketchy business indeed. Your commentary on the WAPF and its politics is also very enlightening.

    One quick point of correction: I googled the other organization and saw that it is called the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.

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  23. Thank you for this brave and honest post! I’ve been hearing of this controversy for some time now, and you did a great job of putting the pieces out here to see. Thank you!

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  24. Looks like Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist has written a response as well.

    She feels it’s rather suspicious that the names of the labs were blacked out, and feels there should be transparency there, and other than one doctor, she says the sources of funding seem to have been withheld. She claims studies were done in the US & the UK last year.

    Not saying I agree, but if that’s true, those are good points.

    I have seen GP FCLO at a local health food store, but it’s very expensive, can’t afford it. And my naturopath has recommended fish oil with EPA & DHA while trying to conceive at least.

    http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/response-to-dr-daniels-report-on-fermented-cod-liver-oil/

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  25. Thank you so much for this post! It is very disheartening to once again learn of something I have been taking that I thought was good, is not. I am glad I found out before I spent more money on it. We were taking the cod liver oil/butter oil blend in capsules but ran out. I was waiting for our group to purchase more so we could get a better price, and bought Nordic Naturals instead. We also have taken Carlson’s in the past. I hope that these two cod liver oils are good!

    Reply

  26. Hi Kate…Thanks for this article… several years ago, one of my farmers who sold GP’s FCLO received a batch that she felt smelled rancid… I gave it the sniff test and sure enough it was. When she contacted GP about a refund and shipping it back… they said no and that was normal smell, not rancid. This was not their first order. They carried it for their customers because many are WAPF followers. Also…one of their grandchildren developed symptoms after the parents started him on FCLO, I don’t remember the symptoms, only that the conclusion was it was from the FCLO. The farmer quit carrying GP’s products and the whole family stop taking it. I had purchased one bottle some time before hearing this and after it was all did not invest in another bottle… the reason was… that my other farmer and dear friend told me of a conversation he had with Dave of GP. He had called to inquire about the process and Dave flat out refused to discuss it with him. This was a red flag for me and when I no longer had confidence in their product. First and foremost, their is no way one company can produce enough for all those who want it, but more importantly why would they not share this process, if it were so beneficial and healthy… more small producers would create more demand for a healthy product….. something smelt fishy (haha). Dr. Kaayla Daniel’s report confirms this. I am going to print your article out and share with my farmers…. they don’t have internet… they are Horse and Buggy Mennonites. Thank you again. BTW: Before GP came on the market… Sally Fallon, 1999-2001 recommended Pacific Research Lab cod liver oil and I am sure I read or heard her recommend Carlson’s

    Reply

  27. Very confused by this! My family has been taking this for years! Great results! I was muscle tested with fclo and butter oil and it tested fine.
    My hdl is 80 and triglycerides were very low taking this product. My diet is far from perfect although we eat butter, pastured foods etc.
    I have looked into the Rosita brand and its twice as expensive. 🙁
    We have always been scared to run out of the fclo because we would always get sick if we did. Hmmmm….

    Reply

  28. Thanks for sharing your research. I couldn’t believe this when I read about it yesterday. Like you, we have long considered GP to be the best cod liver oil supplement and have used it off and on (when we could afford it) for years. I have noticed a pretty big change in their oils over the last several years, but just assumed I didn’t like the new style of thicker and flavored oils. It absolutely never occurred to me that they were covering up low quality, adulterated oils.

    I have one big question though. If oils cannot be fermented, which everyone seems to be confirming as fact, as if everyone should have known this all along, then HOW did GP fermented cod liver oils EVER get the acceptance and endorsement that they have from so many people in the natural health industry??? It’s not just WAPF that recommends GP. Did you know that “fermented” oils are actually just rancid? I didn’t! Why was this fact never addressed? Surely some chemist thought to themselves, “What do you mean ‘fermented’ cod liver oil?”

    Reply

  29. I’m not convinced! you cant ferment oil, but you can ferment liver. right? the oil comes from the fermented livers, not the oil is fermented after extraction. right? did you read his rebuttal? what do you think?

    Reply

  30. I feel so much appreciation for your research! When do you have the time?!?! I have 2 kids and am 6 months post partum and just feel the pregnancy cloud starting to lift. I was very into WAPF and am even apart of a chapter. However, I tandem breastfeed and extend breastfeeding and when I post science based evidence or personal experience or just ask logical questions about their stance I am — ignored — that made me realize this really was the Sally Fallon foundation 🙂 haha. I agree with you about the dietary recommendations and how great dr prices work was. That being said, I am so mean, but seriously, does no one else notice how puffy and unhealthy Sally Fallon looks?!?!?! I am not trying to be mean, but I seriously worry about her when I see her pics or watch her videos. Ugh. Looking forward to your recommendation for clo. Right now I am leaning toward nutrapro

    Reply

  31. Thank you for clarifying all this in an easy to read and understand article, because I too was going back and forth as to whether it was all true or not. I’m totally distraught over the fact that I’ve been giving this to my son religiously for his 2 years of life…now I’m questioning if it has caused his behavioral problems. Can you please provide ideas on how to detox from using this, if it’s possible.
    Personally I’ve looked into Omega Cure products, my chiropractor and his family have used it for years. So I’m likely switching to that. I’ll be anxiously waiting for more information on this from you.
    Thank you!

    Reply

  32. How do you suggest I detox from taking FCLO? I am 13 weeks pregnant and had been taking two capsules of FCLO + butter oil per day. Thank you so much for your research!

    Reply

  33. The livers will ferment in salt water, and the oils will flow out and can be extracted on top of the water. The oil it self can not be fermented, but the liver can same way we can ferment raw meat. Health problems people have can be due to other malnutrition, such as low magnesium, high A-vitamin, intake of poly unsaturated fats (fish oil is poly unsaturated fats, and should be consumed with a source of saturated fat like Blue Ice Royal series. Dr. Daniels do not show any of her sources, but WAPF and GP does. I agree with Dave Wetzel and he told years ago that he do buy the livers froom Russia (due to NATO and US not beeing friends with Russia, and the tendency in US to not like companies that buy from the enemy, it is no wonder he keeps his mouth shut). I know all the facts of the production, but off course he could have changed things. We need trancparancy, and he now needs to show the facts to go clear. Dr. Daniels on the other hand just says things she do not know much about, she can not understand the tests, and she is no fat expert. The results from the hidden laboratories is of no worth because they can not understand fermented foods because they are used to industrialized foods that do not change. Studies in the byproducts by fermenting is poor! Rositas oil is analysed in Norway together with 2 other oils, and are found to contain high levels of PCB (http://www.nrk.no/nordland/farlige-nivaer-av-miljogifter-pavist-i-fiskeolje-1.12470587). Green Pasture is still the best, but I do agree we need more transparancy from all parts. WAPF is not Weston, that is for sure, but a lot of information from them is very valid, but I do agree they are no super beeings and do mistakes. I do still use the products, and give them to my family, because I am sure this is a back stabber operation 🙂

    Dave had commented the issue lately http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Blog/index.cfm

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  34. Very, VERY interesting. I have known of PPF for many years. I am a WAPF chapter leader, but not active like many are and certainly unaware of these issues. The interesting part is that I have never really muscle tested that CLO was beneficial. Muscle testing is the main form of analysis that I use and I have had hundreds of clients over the years. I believed in CLO but rarely recommended it. Even for teeth and mouth problems there have been other solutions…these problems usually are a result of problems elsewhere in the body.

    Thank you for this information and it will be interesting to see the fallout and follow up!

    Reply

  35. If you guys don’t want the rest of your FCLO due to these accusations, I’ll definitely take any unopened bottles off your hands! I love Green Pasture’s FCLO!

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  36. Thank you for this. I really don’t know a lot about WAPF. The first I heard of them was the whole breastfeeding debacle (and I think the initials after my name indicate my stance on that.)

    Is there a place to get (or the name of a book) just strictly Dr. Price’s recommendations? This is probably a ridiculously simplistic question to those of you who are more involved, but I’m really not knowledgeable about his work.

    Reply

  37. Please watch my video covering Dr. Daniel’s shocking new ebook about Green Pastures cod liver oil!

    https://youtu.be/wYOsI3xFuUA

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  38. Thank you for taking the time to do the research. I really appreciate your clear writing, and I understand the issue much better. Thanks!!

    Reply

  39. I am very concerned as well, and await wapf or Dave’s comments but before we condemn fclo there is some info that needs to be spread.

    Similar to the livers being fermented in vats , fish use to be buried in the snow and left to decompose, all animal tissue has enzymes to speed decomposition once and animal dies and many cultures do this to increase absorption.
    When the Eskimo was asked.why the favour the high meat they replied it enabled them to spend twice as long at sea kyacking.
    The pigmies do this too, hang meat out to decompose, and when questioned reply that dont eat the smell.
    Butter is cultured that is very low carb too.

    We may be getting confused about lacto fermenting and using natural enzymes present in the food to decompose itself.

    Remember fruit such as lime and lemon are used to marinate meat and aid decomposition so we may benefit from eased digestion and assimilation.

    Let’s think bigger picture.

    Reply

  40. Freaking awesome research! I’m soooo glad I did not spend the $$$ on this fermented oil. I really wanted to but it was way too expensive and then later I found out my son cannot even have anything that is fermented so I had another reason to stay away. Instead I opted to buy Nordic Naturals Cod Liver oil, we love that one. I did buy their butter oil, which is like ghee, and my son can have that but I would never buy it again as that was also $$$$ nad I frankly do not like to buy products from shady companies.

    Reply

  41. […] You can read Kate’s full post here: Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil the Real Deal or a Sick Hoax? […]

    Reply

  42. My husband is a marine scientist at a top University and has for many years told me that FCLO is rancid. Apparently TOTOX (Peroxide and Anisidine values) can be low in a very rancid oil. I took it briefly but got a reaction and stopped. As a previous consumer and follower of WAPF I am very angry.

    How about the Pollock issue! Actually, my husband told me that FCLO was made from Pollock livers a long time ago when Dave showed a picture on his website of a jar of fermenting livers. He also looked at the DHA:EPA ratio like Dr Kaayla did. He sent the picture of fermenting livers to other marine experts and also to very experienced fishermen and every single one of them said it was Pollock livers in that jar. Much too small to be genuine cod livers. Dave has made out he was transparent in everything but why did he then fail to tell consumers he was using Pollock livers? Worst of all, he has been writing about how the Vikings consumed FCLO. They did not consume FPLO (or should we now say pickled pollock liver oil)! The DNA evidence of Dr Kaayla stated a 100% match for Pollock livers as well. But the picture gave it away long before that.

    This is a serious mislabeling issue.

    If measuring vitamin D is so inaccurate and meaningless according to Masterjohn and Dave then why did Dave measure vitamin D levels and show such absurdly high results on his website? He always goes on about the high levels of D in his oil. According to the real vitamin D expert, Michael Hollick, D3 is the main form in cod liver oil. But what does he know compared to Masterjohn!

    I for one thing will be following PPNF from now on! WAPF is run like a cult and there sure are strong financial ties between Fallon and Dave.

    Thank you once again for your honest discussion.

    Lolly

    Reply

  43. […] Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil the Real Deal…or a sick Hoax – ModernAlternativeMama.com […]

    Reply

  44. This is very interesting. I take GP FCLO here and there. It defiantly helped out with my last pregnancy. There were issues that I had with the last 5 that I didn’t have at all with her. The only thing I changed was the FCLO.

    However, my husband who is highly allergic to Soy can not take GP FCLO at all. I can’t remember what the issue is but he insist that it does not agree with him.

    This now makes me wonder?? I am going to have to look into this some more.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  45. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Was talking with a friend about this and here is the link she sent me.
    http://articles.beeyoutiful.com/2015/08/26/beeyoutifuls-response-to-the-controversy-the-weston-a-price-foundation-green-pasture-fermented-cod-liver-oil/

    Reply

  46. Ok so what about the fact that people have been doing this for thousands of years (putrefrying fish livers) and have lived long lives? You write about this in your other blog. Is GP doing something else that we are just not aware of?

    Reply

    • They did do it for hundreds of years, yes, and I believe there’s benefit to oil made that way. But I think that it also comes with drawbacks from the putrefied livers that we have been able to avoid for almost 200 years — so why not use the modern methods that protect the oils?

      And, it concerns me that GP is using Alaskan pollock livers (much cheaper and not the same nutritional profile, which matters) and that they don’t answer questions when asked. Someone I know asked why they don’t run the oil through a centrifuge to remove the small bits of putrefied liver, and got the response “Why do you think we don’t?” What kind of professional answers questions that way?

      Anyway. I’m pleased to have found better quality, more professional options. If you believe GP is best for you, then you can purchase it. I wanted people to be aware of all the options.

      Reply

  47. […] Joy In My Kitchen (pictured) Easy DIY Calamine Lotion from the Soft Landing (pictured) Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil the Real Deal or A Sick Hoax from Modern Alternative Mama Friends, Don’t Let Friends Drink Essential Oils from the […]

    Reply

  48. Spare a thought for me! I have 11 and a half bottles of the chocolate FC/butter oil from green pastures in the fridge. I bought 12 and used 1/2 bottle is 8 months or so. the stuff tastes like sheet.

    Reply

  49. I gave Dr. Kaaylas report a real long read, and spent time doing background research on her findings to see what they mean. Its shocking the conclusions she draws from some of this data. You can read my full analysis here: http://www.thehealthcloud.co.uk/green-pastures-rancid-report-analysis

    Reply

  50. […] high vitamin butter oil. However, when the fermented cod liver oil was called into question (see: http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2015/08/24/is-fermented-cod-liver-oil-the-real-deal-or-a-sick-h…), I chose to switch to Nordic Naturals cod liver oil and Green Pastures high vitamin butter oil […]

    Reply

  51. […] oil. However, when the fermented cod liver oil was called into question (see: http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2015/08/24/is-fermented-cod-liver-oil-the-real-deal-or-a-sick-h…), I chose to switch to Nordic Naturals cod liver oil and Green Pastures high vitamin butter oil […]

    Reply

  52. Hi!

    I have just watched one of Ramiel Nagel’s videos on dental health. I was skeptical about the use of cod liver oil because of putrefaction.

    Can anyone tell me what the whole cod liver oil thing is all about? Ramiel tells it to take because of its Vit. A and D content.
    Vitamin D can (if not by sunlight) easily obtained from supplements (i. e. oily capsules or drops), and pro-vitamin A was shown to be well absorbed from vegetables.

    What other benefits from fermented cod liver oil are there?

    Thanks,
    Andy

    Reply

  53. […] were also posts on Modern Alternative Mama, Wellness Mama, Balanced Bites, and Nourished and Nurtured, who boldly wrote about her concerns […]

    Reply

  54. […] it more, and discovered — unfortunately — that there was a legitimate concern.  Read my take on all of the controversy.  Plus, my original follow-up on how to choose quality cod liver […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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