The company is now pledging that its omega-3 concentrates - both triglyceride and ethyl ester - will contain no more than 4 pg/g of dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs combines. Its previous specification limit was 5 mg/g. Both are still significantly lower than the EU maximum of 10 pg/g. introduced in late 2006. "We are proud to be able to meet consumer demand for maximum purity and quality of omega-3 products. Our customers are pleased that contaminant levels for Epax oils are 60 per cent better than the maximum limits set by new EU regulations," said Bjorn Refsum, CEO of Epax. Dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are chemicals that occur almost everywhere in our environment. Bi-products of combustion, they can be created either naturally through events such as forest fires or through man-made processes. Their ubiquity means they are found in edible fish and other animals, and can build up in the human body if too-high levels are consumed. High levels have been linked to a number of health problems, such as cancer, immune and nervous system disorders, liver damage and sterility. The flip-side, however, is that omega-3, of which fish oil the best source, is gaining more and more recognition as an ingredient essential to human health. A plethora of studies have linked it to heart health, maternal and infant health and cognitive function. This perceived play-off means that some consumers may be cautious about consuming fish and fish oil, and reassurances from legislators and industry about safe maximum levels can go a long way towards improving confidence and ensuring consumers do not miss out on the benefits. Maximum levels of dioxins and furans in fish oil intended for human consumption in the EU were set in July 2002 at 2pg/g. Since then, however, more information has become available on dioxin-like PCBs, leading to the introduction of a combined limit of 10pg/g as of November 4 2006. "The Epax limits for environmental pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs are at such low levels - and consumed in such small concentrations - that they are considered absolutely safe. High levels of oxidation products are proven to be damaging to the human cell by free radicals forming," added Refsum. "[Offering maximum purity] is in-line with our strategy to remain ahead of regulatory measures and to constantly improve by setting new industry standards. This enables us to realize our most important commitments - consumer safety and consumer trust," said Gunilla Traberg, marketing manager for Epax. Epax was recently acquired by Austevoll from Ferd Private Equity for an undisclosed sum, which would reportedly secure the omega-3 company's fish oil supply and enabling full traceability. The planned acquisition was announced in early January, and one of the main motivations was said to be for EPAX to have a vertically integrated supply from fishing to omega-3 oil supply and avoid potential sourcing problems for the future.