Customs seizes fish oil soft gel capsules with suspected false trade descriptions (with photos)

2 May 2012

Customs and Excise Department seized 1,673 bottles of fish oil soft gel capsules worth about $610,000 suspected of bearing false trade descriptions on the contents of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in a series of raids involving an importer, nine wholesalers and nine retail shops last week.

A Customs spokesperson said today (May 2), "Under the department's Product Monitoring Scheme (PMS), Customs officers test-purchased 18 samples of fish oil soft gel capsules from 17 retail shops throughout the territory earlier this year for analysis of DHA and EPA contents."

The analysis results showed that the DHA content of six samples in six brands was 45 per cent to 95 per cent less than that claimed and the EPA content was 9 per cent to 85 per cent less than that claimed.


"Overstating the DHA and EPA contents of fish oil soft gel capsules is an offence under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The operation is continuing," the spokesperson said.

According to the US National Institutes of Health, DHA and EPA can help:

  1. decrease the risk of heart disease;
  2. ensure a normal heart rate and coronary blood flow;
  3. lower triglyceride;
  4. act as anti-arrhythmic agents;
  5. reduce joint tenderness; and
  6. in use as a corticosteroid drug for rheumatoid arthritis.

The spokesperson said that the price of fish oil soft gel capsules with high DHA and EPA contents would be higher than those products with lower DHA and EPA contents.

"The PMS adopts risk assessment to screen and identify popular consumer goods, including health-care products and nutrient supplements, which are prone to violation of the TDO. Samples will be drawn from the market for analysis by the Government Laboratory or accredited laboratories," she added.

Under the TDO, any person who supplies goods with a false trade description in the course of trade or business or has in his possession for sale any goods with a false trade description is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspected violations of the Ordinance through the Customs 24-hour hotline on 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, May 2 2012

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