FAQs for Industry

The International Fish Oil Standards™ (IFOS™) Program is the only third party testing and certification program exclusively for fish oils.  As a voluntary, subscription-based service, IFOS tests products by lot using direct analysis, allowing companies to showcase their high quality, premium products.

Have a question about IFOS?  We’ve gathered some of the most common inquiries from industry to help you better understand how the program works.

Does IFOS endorse certain products or brands?

No.  IFOS is completely third party and unbiased.  Companies that choose to subscribe to IFOS are doing so on a voluntary basis and are paying subscription and testing fees.

What are the benefits of getting IFOS certified?

Companies that get IFOS certified and use the certification mark on their label stand out in the marketplace as being of higher purity, stability and quality than competing products.  The IFOS certification lets consumers know that a brand is committed to transparency and is taking active steps to ensure product quality.

I’m a retailer.  How can IFOS benefit me?

Stocking IFOS certified brands in your retail store creates brand loyalty and provides your sales staff with a better understanding of the product’s quality and safety profile.  In addition, carrying IFOS certified products in your retail store shows that you are:

  • Dedicated to carrying the highest quality, premium fish oil brands
  • Concerned about the health and safety of your customers and their families
  • Passionate about helping your customers find the safest products
  • Committed to transparency and truthful labelling

Does IFOS certify raw material suppliers, encapsulators and formulators?

IFOS offers certification solutions to companies globally and can provide certification for raw materials, finished products and custom formulations. Please contact a representative from the IFOS team to discuss how the program can work for your business.

How many companies are listed on the IFOS website?

IFOS has tested thousands of products to date.  Currently, over 100 fish oil brands are listed on the Consumer Reports page of the IFOS website.

What types of IFOS subscriptions are available?

Annual subscriptions are available for both finished product/brands and raw material suppliers.  A description of each can be found here.

How much does it cost for a company to get IFOS certified?

Companies are required to pay for the annual subscription package, the analytical testing and each Consumer Report.  As pricing may vary on a case-by-case basis, it is recommended that you contact the IFOS team to discuss your product and to provide you with an accurate quote.

Can my company test through IFOS without buying a subscription?

No.  Each company is required to pay for an annual subscription.

Once I am subscribed to IFOS, what do I need to do?

For finished products and brands

Clients must submit each unique batch of finished product for the SKU of interest for the complete testing panel.

The lot will be tested against the IFOS standards for active ingredient concentration (e.g., omega-3s [EPA + DHA]) compared to the label claim, contaminants and stability to ensure products meet these standards and to determine the product’s 5-star rating.

For raw material suppliers

Clients are required to submit samples for testing on an annual basis for each SKU they wish to certify.  For every SKU the company wishes to certify, a per batch review of manufacturing documentation is conducted.  The batch will be tested against the IFOS 5-star criteria for raw material suppliers.

What are the sample submission requirements?

For finished products and brands

The IFOS Program accepts the following product types/matrices: liquid oil, capsules, foods, beverages, microencapsulated powder and emulsions.

Three bottles of sample per product for the entire IFOS panel (minimum 150 grams of sample total) are required.

If Product Reports are included in the subscription, clients must also provide the following for inclusion in the product’s Product Report:

  • Brand/product name
  • Product class (e.g., ultra-refined, combination, etc.)
  • Product type (e.g., EE, TG, omega-7, etc.)
  • Product availability (e.g., USA, Canada, etc.)
  • Product summary (a 1-paragraph overview of the product)
  • Expiry date
  • Recommended daily allowance
  • Company contact information
  • Company website and/or links to the product page
  • An image of the product/bottle
  • Any regulatory approval numbers for the product (e.g., NPN)

For raw material suppliers

 The following documents are required to be submitted for review.

  • Documentation to show that the manufacturing facility is an approved and registered food/dietary supplement manufacturing facility with an appropriate certification
  • Documentation to show that the company and/or product has been registered in accordance with the regulatory authorities’ requirements where the product is produced
  • Documentation outlining the analytical test methods used in batch-to-batch testing to ensure compliance with the IFOS test methods
  • Technical C of As verifying the analytical testing of all batches of all certified SKUs

To complete the Raw Material Summary Report, clients must also provide the following information for inclusion:

  • Raw material brand name
  • Company name
  • Company contact information
  • Company website and/or links to the product page
  • A logo of the product line

What is the turnaround time for IFOS testing?

Our standard turnaround time is 10 business days from the date of sample reception. We also offer rush and emergency requests at an additional cost. One of our team members will contact you once your results are ready. By signing into our Laboratory Information Management System, @ndi, you can view your Certificates of Analysis being constructed in real time.

What are IFOS Product Reports?

IFOS Product Reports are comprehensive documents that list all of the testing results for each product by batch/lot number, allowing consumers to read and interpret the testing results and compare products before buying them.  Unlike Certificates of Analysis, Product Reports are free for consumers to download from the IFOS website.

What is the IFOS certification mark and how can my company use it?

The IFOS certification mark is a seal of approval that IFOS subscribers can use on their product labels, in marketing and online.  Companies use the mark to prove that their product has been tested and certified by the IFOS Program.

What is the IFOS 5-star rating system?

The IFOS Program rates products on a 5-star scale. The process of rating finished products differs from the process of rating raw materials.

Once a specific batch/lot is tested through IFOS, it is rated on a 5-star system.  Depending on the testing results, products can be awarded from 0 to 5 stars.  More information about the star rating system can be found here.

How can I use IFOS in my company’s marketing?

As an internationally recognized testing and certification program, IFOS is an invaluable marketing tool and verification of quality for fish oil companies.

Placing the certification mark on product labels, on websites and in marketing materials demonstrates your company’s commitment to quality and showcases the purity, potency and stability of your products.  Consumers look for the IFOS certification mark when shopping for fish oil, and seeing it on a label is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.

In addition, publishing Consumer Reports and hyperlinking to the Consumer Reports page of the IFOS website further demonstrates that your product is of premium quality.  Finally, the internet and social media are more important than ever for brand awareness and consumer education.  Follow @IFOS_Program on Twitter, like the IFOS Facebook page (facebook.com/ifosprogram) and urge your network of followers and friends to do the same.  IFOS will mention your brand online and congratulate you for demonstrating a commitment to transparency and product quality.

Can I change the colour or design of the IFOS certification mark?

The IFOS brand guidelines permit the use of certain colours only. Other certification mark configurations, including the depiction of 5 stars or a URL alongside the logo, are permitted in some instances.  To obtain a copy of the official IFOS brand guidelines, or inquire about variations of the IFOS certification mark, please contact info@nutrasource.ca.

If my product has been tested and has passed all the IFOS testing categories, but I am not paying for an IFOS subscription, can I say that my product is IFOS certified?

No.  The IFOS Program is a registered trademark of Nutrasource.  Any declarations such as “tested to the IFOS standards,” “IFOS 5-star” or related statements are not permitted unless a Terms of Use Agreement has been signed.  In addition, companies must pay for an annual subscription package in order to make claims about the IFOS Program.

Does IFOS include speciation testing to determine the species of fish a product was derived from?

No. Testing to determine the species of fish is not a requirement of the IFOS Program at this time.

Does IFOS test for radiation?

Yes. IFOS now tests fish oil samples for radiation. Click to view the full press release.

How is IFOS different from other certification programs?

The IFOS Program strives to increase the transparency and accountability in the fish oil industry.  IFOS is the only third party testing and certification program that:

  • Is specifically designed for fish oils
  • Tests products by lot
  • Publishes Product Reports online to showcase the testing results of each set of testing
  • Ranks products according to a 5-star rating system

Does IFOS test other types of omega-3 supplements like krill oil or algae?

IFOS focuses exclusively on testing fish oil. However, IFOS’s parent company, Nutrasource, offers additional testing and certification programs for other product types. Contact info@nutrasource.ca to learn more about these other testing programs.

What other services does Nutrasource provide?

Nutrasource provides testing services for all types of consumer health products including dietary supplements, natural health products, foods, beverages, cosmetics, cosmeceuticals and pharmaceuticals.  In addition, we offer clinical trials services and regulatory and R&D consulting.  Contact info@nutrasource.ca or visit www.nutrasource.ca for more information.