Response to Dr. Daniel’s Report on Fermented Cod Liver Oil
After initial review of Kaayla Daniel PhD’s report on Green Pasture Products, I felt it necessary to state my current position as a consumer and as a Board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
I know it is important to many of you that I weigh in on this issue since it is potentially so upsetting to those who have been using Green Pasture Products and giving them to your children like I have for years.
In this report, Dr. Daniel contends that the Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil and butter oil products are rancid and harmful to health. Furthermore, she claims that lab tests show that the fermented cod liver oil isn’t even from cod and is low in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.
These are serious accusations indeed and ones that cause alarm coming from a professional as highly qualified as Dr. Daniel.
To give you some background, my relationship with Dr. Daniel began in 2007 when I met her at the annual Wise Traditions conference. I found her to be intelligent and good-humored … with a blog named The Naughty Nutritionist how could you be too serious, right? Over the years she has been a great supporter of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s work, serving on the Board most recently as its Vice President. She has written many articles for the Weston A. Price website and Wise Traditions Journal. Some of her articles appear here on The Healthy Home Economist website.
So, for Dr. Daniel to deliver a lengthy report that calls into question the integrity of one of the most highly regarded producers of nutrient dense food supplements is a matter to be taken seriously. And I have. And, I can assure you, so has the Foundation.
First of all, let’s look at what we know by way of general background:
- Cod liver oil and butter oil were both used by Dr. Weston A. Price DDS in his research early in the last century and considered nutrient dense foods high in the fat soluble activators.
- Green Pastures has been producing and selling cod liver oil and butter oil since at least since 2003 when I was first introduced to the company. The fermented cod liver oil debuted in 2007, and I immediately switched my family to this product which we have been using ever since with stellar results. I know many of you have experienced the same because you have written me about it.
- Green Pasture Product’s fermented cod liver oil has been tested by two independent labs – one in the USA and in the UK – and found to be free of rancidity while containing valuable nutrients. These tests served as the basis for the WAPF Board deciding in 2014 that claims of rancidity were unfounded.
- Many leaders in the Real Food community, including Foundation President Sally Fallon Morell, have studied these products in detail and toured the facilities (yes, I’m one of those bloggers Dr. Daniel says were given VIP tours – but what Dr. Daniel fails to mention is that I wasn’t even blogging yet at the time of my tour) and have been convinced of their authenticity and quality – to the point we have been using them ourselves and giving them to our children for nearly 9 years with excellent results – always in the proper dosage and never to excess.
- Two different laboratories have found mostly vitamin D2 in Green Pasture Products cod liver oil, and Dave was honest enough to share this surprising information with the public. Also, the extra virgin cod liver oil (Rosita) was found to contain mostly D2 by one of these labs as well. This is something that intrigues the Weston A. Price Foundation Board very much and there are plans in motion already to look into this further.
Secondly, let’s look at what Dr. Daniel claims in her report:
- The report makes damaging claims that the Green Pasture Products are rancid and therefore harmful and these tests were conducted by several unnamed labs using supposedly superior testing methodology and equipment.
- The fermented cod liver oil contains average to low amounts of fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.
- DNA testing shows that the fermented cod liver oil doesn’t come from cod, but from the Alaskan Pollock (considered a member of the cod family).
- The fermented cod liver oil tests for transfats and the most likely way this could happen is via dilution with a rancid vegetable oil of some kind.
- The High Vitamin Butter oil may come from Argentina and also tests rancid.
- Vitamin K2 is not what Dr. Price referred to as “Activator X”.
Lastly, here are the initial concerns I have about this report:
- The labs used to run these tests are unnamed with the letterhead blacked out on the actual lab reports. This is highly unorthodox and is a major red flag. There should be complete transparency here. If the lab work is credible and authentic, the lab should be more than willing to put its name behind the data like is done for other scientific research. Dr. Daniel questioned the reputation and methods of the labs that were fully transparent and reported the fermented cod liver oil to be free of rancidity and high in the fat soluble vitamins, so shouldn’t the labs which claimed they were rancid be closely examined as well? How do we know the tests weren’t run by a rival manufacturer actively seeking to do damage to Mr. Wetzel?
- Dr. Daniel cites Dr. Ron Schmid ND as one of the funding sources for the report who claims fermented cod liver oil caused him to contract heart disease (which in itself is a questionable claim since he is a sample size of one which is meaningless in scientific terms). In addition, by his own omission, he took excessive amounts of regular cod liver oil for many years (from 1979-2006) and then switched to fermented cod liver oil for another six years, again taking it in megadoses (1-3 Tablespoons per day … up to 9X the recommended daily dosage). This dosage equates to up to 20 teaspoons of salt or 75 glasses of water per day. Such extreme behavior that few if any medical doctors would recommend is not the fault of a product, but rather the fault and poor judgment of the individual taking it. It also indicates a potential lack of objectivity in the report that is concerning.
- The remainder of the report’s funding is not fully disclosed which raises another serious red flag. Were these other funding sources third parties who stand to financially gain from damaging results?
- According to a very reliable source, Dr. Daniel notified Dave Wetzel of her concerns regarding the fermented cod liver oil being rancid a year ago, and he responded with an invitation to fly her out to his facility immediately at his expense and spend as much time as she’d like to thoroughly investigate his methods. He took her concerns very seriously and had a number of tests done right away that he forwarded to her. Why Dr. Daniel didn’t respond to his efforts to address her concerns remains unanswered.
Being the professional I know her to be, Dr. Daniel would certainly understand my concerns and would welcome healthy, rigorous scrutiny of the lab work and methods used for testing. I look forward to more clarification on these issues in the coming weeks and months as well as as a point by point rebuttal by Mr. Wetzel. There are always two sides to every story.
In the meantime, given the excellent results I have observed in my own family consuming fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil for the past 9 years, I see no concrete reason to make any changes until the claims in this report have been thoroughly substantiated with complete and utter transparency. I do very much agree with Dr. Daniel that more study is warranted.
The jury is still out on this and I, for one, am not going to knee jerk and abruptly change what has been working extremely well for my family for many years along with many other families I know.
I hope this summary of my thoughts helps in some way as you decide what is best for your own family.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has now published a lengthy response to Dr. Daniel’s report. Click here to review it.
Also, Dr. Chris Masterjohn has published an excellent rebuttal to Dr. Daniel’s report. Click here to review it. I, for one, have now decided to stick with the fermented cod liver oil as I have for the past 9 years based on this thorough analysis!
Trans fats in FCLO? Not so fast! Here are the latest test results.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.