By Dave Wetzel, Green Pasture CEO
Attached are PDF's of a few recent test results that address the subject of oxidation products in cod liver oil. They were carried out by Mid West Labs, which is a leader in the US when it comes to testing, directing and working with US food safety, testing and labeling guidelines.
All our products are tested for other food safety markers such as PCB's, heavy metals, pathogens etc. All these tests come out negative and are randomly posted on our website.
The attached lab results were carried out when the lab was conducting standard pathogen tests and some amine tests. We run amine tests to better understand our fermentation process--these are not related to food safety testing. Different concentration and types of bacteria can produce the variation of biogenic amine concentrations in different products. Due to the difference of bacteria involving the fermentation, sausage will have its own amine panel, and ripened beef products will also have their own unique amine panel that assist in defining the product, cheese, etc...
We were asked for oxidation markers to be run for discussion but we routinely do not run these as they are not related to food safety but rather are used by industry in an attempt to describe flavor and odor.
Industry needs these markers so they can correlate a desired outcome based on input. For example, the higher the free fatty acid number the more difficult it is to hydrogenate an oil. Industry will segregate these oils and may determine a price on this marking point. We know that free fatty acids are healthful as they are formed by a natural metabolic processes within your gut. Free fatty acids are important for a variety of metabolic processes including sugar metabolism. Many fats you buy and eat already have free fatty acids. FCLO is no different. We have tested for these in the past but do not routinely test as it is not a food safety concern. As we ferment the livers to extract the oil without preservatives, there will always be a certain amount of free fatty acids in our product.
There are many ways to manipulate an oil to reduce these flavor/taste markers. They include adding preservatives, and exposing product to a variety of absorbents and chemical processes. These are not necessary with our products.
Below are three tests. Two are composite tests based on raw material the lab had in house and a third lot we were running for amine tests when we asked them to pull some oxidative markers.
FREE FATTY ACIDS: This is not an oxidative marker. FCLO ranged from 19.2 to 25.3 in two tests. We did run a test on pale cod liver oil for comparison and it came in at 9.64 (Yellow/pale cod liver oil is brand x. I had to buy one and test so there would be a reference point for discussion)
PV: This is a first stage oxidation marker. FCLO came in at from 3.9 to 4 . I have seen discussions on this marker and I think the aim in industry is under 10 for yellow clo. I have no test on pale cod liver oil to compare.
P ANISIDINE: This is a late stage marker. FCLO ranged from 9 to 16. The comparative pale cod liver oil tested 32.
TBA: This is another late stage marker. FCLO ranged from .49 to 1.59. The yellow cod liver oil tested 1.15.
The last stages of oxidation create sulfides. We have never tested as sulfides are so distinct in odor there is no doubt about it when they are there. Have any of you eaten a Chinese century egg? I have. You can call it fermented but in our society we call it rotten egg. If you can get over the odor it is quite good. I don't mind it. It is an egg that is buried and left to ferment in the ground for many months.
Please note that none of the oxidative discussion is relevant to food safety. I have talked with several food safety scientists over the years and they all have shared the same discussion points. These markers are for flavor and odor discussions only. They play no other role in food safety discussions. No one needs to be concerned about taking pale cod liver oil because they are afraid of the higher anisidine count. The reading is meaningless for safety discussions and a one-time test does not define anything. I'm sure each and every cod liver oil on the market today is perfectly safe for consumption when it comes to meeting food safety standards. You can buy each and any brand you would like without concern about food safety!
Putting Oxidation in Perspective
By the way, when wine oxidizes we call it vinegar. Good tasting vinegar will include certain strains of bacterial fermentation to assist in the flavor profile for vinegar. And for a special vinegar we might age it for 20-30 years and it turns a deep brown to almost black. This is a very special product, which is further oxidized. We have food names for each of these oxidative products. We typically will drink a glass of wine, but rarely drink as glass of vinegar. But we do recognize the healthful aspects of vinegar and there are many books and articles discussing mixing small amount of vinegar in water and drinking every day. Because we have names for each of these products, we typically do not call vinegar rancid wine! Likewise we do not refer to cheese as rancid milk! Although some cheeses might smell like this. I looked up smelly cheeses and found some are banned in certain countries and locations because of the smell.