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Foundation: Excess Levels of Dioxin Found in Canadian Shark Liver Oil Extract

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TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An excess level of dioxins has been found in a shark liver oil extract imported from Canada, the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation warned on Tuesday.

The foundation, in cooperation with National Tsing Hua University's chemistry department, tested the level of the toxic chemical in nine samples of name-brand fish liver oil products on sale across Taiwan and released the results on Tuesday.

One of the nine items contained a dioxin level of 2.54 pico-grams of the toxicity equivalent per gram of fat, higher than the upper limit of 2 pg TEQ/g fat for dioxin levels in fish oil supplements set by the government.

According to the foundation, the substandard product was "Shark Liver Extract soualene 99," imported from Canada by import agency Soakin Company and importer Fu Heng Company.

The two firms have decided to halt sales of the shark liver oil product and recalled the product after the Department of Health asked them to remove it from store shelves.

Fu Heng Company noted that about 200,000 to 300,000 capsules of the shark liver oil product have been imported.

The two firms also have provided some samples of the questionable product for the DOH to retest.

The chief director of the food safety bureau under the DOH, Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘), said that before the further inspection of the product is completed, the shark liver oil product is barred from the marketplace.

Aside from "Shark Liver Extract soualene 99" and "Now Shark Liver Oil," which had a dioxin level of 1.08 pg TEQ/g fat, the dioxin level in the other seven fish liver oil products tested was below 1 pg TEQ/g fat, the Environmental Quality Protection Foundation said.

Foundation Chairman Liu Ming-long (劉銘龍) noted that long-term exposure to excess levels of dioxins would be harmful to the liver, skin and immune system as well as the nervous system, endocrine system and even reproductive functions.

Liu further noted that an accumulated amount of dioxin intake would increase the risk of cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Some research even shows that having dioxin intakes far in excess of tolerable daily intake levels can also lead to miscarriages or the birth of transplacental Yusho babies, a kind of deformity.

At the World Health Organization's meeting on dioxin in May 1998, it recommended that the "tolerable daily intake" of dioxin should be between 1 and 4 pico-grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

Liu stressed that the government should actively enforce the standard and eliminate products containing high levels of dioxins from the market.

The foundation chairman said that because fish oil products are a hot health supplement in Taiwan at the moment, and high levels of dioxins and like-dioxin PCBs were found in fish liver oil products in England and in Hong Kong in 2002 and 2006 respectively, his foundation decided to test the dioxin level in fish liver oil products sold on the island.

This April, one cod oil product produced by England-based Seven Seas and sold in Hong Kong was found to contain excess levels of dioxins, resulting in the local health bureau ordering a recall of the item.

Moreover, in 2002, the Food Safety Agency in England found high levels of dioxins and PCBs in a cod liver oil product sold by local retailers Superdrug and Holland Barrett and asked the two to withdraw their cod fish oil items. from their shelves.

Liu noted that the damage to health caused by PCBs is the same as that caused by dioxins, and indicated that the European Union has set up an upper limit for PCB levels in food products, which will take effect this November.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

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