Natural Foods Merchandiser

Canada expands use of omega-3 in foods

Canada's regulatory waters may be friendlier for fish oil suppliers, now that Health Canada has approved two manufacturers' omega-3 products for use in foods.

Health Canada expanded its Novel Foods approval for Ocean Nutrition Canada, granted in 2003, which allowed ONC's MEG-3 fish oil ingredient to be used in eight foods at a dosage of 50 milligrams per serving. Now, following a safety assessment, ONC's ingredient can be used in virtually all foods and at a dosage of 100 milligrams per serving.

In addition, Health Canada has permitted Martek Biosciences Corp. to use DHASCO-T oil, its chief omega-3 product, as a food ingredient. It may be used in amounts of at least 8 milligrams and up to 100 milligrams of DHA, an active form of omega-3. Martek DHA, another omega-3 product, was previously approved for use in infant formula in Canada.

ONC officials noted of the approval: "Until now, companies have needed to use the precursor source of omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid … found in plant sources like flax." This issue, according to ONC, has been a source of confusion to consumers, who may have thought they were getting the greater omega-3 boost that fish oil provides, when in fact only about 5 percent of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega-3.

"Government bodies are recognizing the importance of DHA to human nutrition throughout the life cycle," said Henry "Pete" Linsert Jr., Martek's chairman and chief executive.

Research indicates omega-3 benefits brain, cardiovascular and joint health.

Shane Starling is a Brighton, England-based freelance writer.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 7/p. 9

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