Upon first hearing of that report, I dismissed it — can’t be a real issue, I thought. I’d been a loyal purchaser of Green Pastures for years, and had recommended them many times. I was sure there was nothing to it all.
But, I looked into 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 oil.
Of course, since then, Green Pastures has completed independent testing and has responded to all of the allegations made. Today, I’m going to look at all of that and give you my final word on what I think, and what we’re doing now.
Essentially, Green Pastures has stated that they do, in fact, use Alaskan Pollock and not the Gadus Morhua, or true cod, and that all of their analyses are in line for that type of fish. They use “…human food grade cod and Pollock livers from the Alaska Fish Processing Industry.” (This is from a report issued via email.) Some have concerns about using fish or livers from Alaska due to radiation issues.
They also acknowledged that the free fatty acids in their products were high, although they claimed that this was not a marker of oxidation because peroxide values were low (typically both would be high in the case of primary oxidation). However, from reading other sources, I have gathered that testing for oxidation in fats is rather tricky, so one person’s opinion on this cannot necessarily be trusted. In an expert report Green Pastures released, the researcher stated:
I would suggest testing anisidine and TBAs at the same time to verify the secondary oxidation products in you products. Bottom line, the FFA test for your product is not a good indicator of oxidation.
I don’t know that the suggested follow-up tests were ever done, but it seems to me that secondary oxidation is still on the table — the researcher is only saying that free fatty acids (FFA) alone were not an indicator.
Ultimately, I feel like Green Pastures only addressed some of the questions that surround the product, and the scientific analyses we have (at least half of which were performed by researchers who have been working for/with them for years) are not adequate to address the issues that were raised.
So, I personally will not be taking this product, and haven’t since the information first came out a few months ago.
What to do About Cod Liver Oil
I do believe in the power of cod liver oil. I do think it is an excellent supplement. Green Pastures has been the “go to” company for a long time in the real food world. So what are other, safe, healthy options?
As soon as I found all of this information on fermented cod liver oil a few months ago, I began looking for new companies and better options. I wasn’t interested in the many more “mainstream,” lower cost types of cod liver oil, which had standardized levels of vitamins and which were refined. No, I was interested in finding the highest quality company, that was transparent about their production methods, that produced an unrefined oil, and that used the “newer” methods for producing cod liver oil (specifically, cold-pressing).
After much searching, I found Dropi.
Dropi is an Iceland-based company, that catches true cod when they are in season, and uses a cold-pressing method to extract the oil safely and naturally — and quickly, so it’s fresh. Vitamin levels vary naturally throughout the season, so they publish an expected range and not exact numbers. They don’t refine the oil at all.
The fish are caught in the oldest fishing spot in Iceland, in a sustainable manner.
Out of all the companies I looked into — and I looked into several — this was the one that impressed me most. They were extremely willing to answer questions when I contacted them, and sent me quite a bit of information.
The brand is just now being imported to the U.S., which is pretty exciting. It wasn’t even available when I first talked to the company.
But, it’s the one I’ve been taking for a couple months now. The one I trust for my family.
We’re only taking 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. per day, which is, I believe, enough — it’s meant to be a supplement, not replace a healthy diet. Dropi even gives this advice on their website.
If you choose capsules, and take 2 per day, you’re looking at $15 per month (not bad!), per person. They also have a liquid (which has a very mild flavor), 220 ml, or about 7.4 oz. At 1/2 tsp. per day, that would last you about 3 months, and the price is $48 — so about $16 per month. Both are very affordable, and the liquid is even more affordable if you’re taking smaller doses.
Do you take cod liver oil? Have you decided what to do about the controversy?
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