Pick up a bottle of fish oil capsules and squint hard at the label. Chances are it won’t say where the pills came from. But isn't that something you should know? Fish oil imports from China, a country notorious for hazardous products, now account for a very large percentage of the American market If you’re getting your fish oil from Costco or Walgreens, then you’re consuming Chinese fish oil. The big problem here, is that many companies have learned how to side step import labeling rules. To be fair, no big recalls or health scandals have been linked to Chinese fish oil, (not yet) but when it comes to consuming fish oil, wouldn’t you think that it is important to get the cleanest and purest form available. Would you eat the fish you caught right off the Redondo beach pier? Consumers ought to be able to tell, at a glance, whether their fish oil capsules are coming from China. People have a right to know. FDA rules say supplement labels should include “a truthful representation of geographical origin.” And Federal Trade Commission rules say they can supplement the Tariff Act when it fails to require the disclosure of countries that process or manufacture products. But enforcement of import labeling is left up to yet another agency, which has been letting the importers get around the law. Those companies assert that simply bottling the capsules in America “transforms” them into a American product, so they don’t have to be labeled as imports. Other American companies are buying the Chinese fish oil in bulk and then getting the capsules produced by an American contract manufacturer. The Chinese factories that make fish oil for export to the America are supposed to meet FDA standards. But the FDA, according to several sources, has never inspected any Chinese dietary supplement plants. Chinese companies also have shown little interest in having independent third parties inspect their plants or in joining industry groups dedicated to ensuring the quality of fish oil. One such group is GOED — the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3s says “There’s not a single Chinese manufacturer in GOED,”. “You tell me why.” Careful processing of fish oil is important to keep it from becoming rancid. Without proper refining it can contain high levels of some nasty substances, such as PCBs and mercury. In addition, lightly regulated plants introduce the possibility of products’ containing odd contaminants or additives that no one would think to test for. For example, in 2008 a contaminated ingredient from China showed up in heparin, a blood-thinning medicine that was linked to 149 deaths. The previous year, dogs and cats died after eating pet food made with wheat gluten from China that apparently contained melamine, a toxic compound. As a result of China’s past troubles, the supplements industry is becoming concerned about a potential scandal involving fish oil. I Know that fish oil is expensive. But usually you get what you pay for. In this case, we use the Nordic Naturals brand, which has been honored several times for being the top quality manufacturer in the industry. Enough said about that. If you are consuming a cheap fish oil, I suggest that you either switch to a better product or stop taking it completely.