The Council for Responsible Nutrition has raised the bar for manufacturing quality long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids.
Washington, D.C.-based CRN's working group has developed a voluntary monograph that identifies desirable oxidation limits for the polyunsaturated oils.
"This monograph includes standards for safety, efficacy and quality, as well as analytical methods for testing products," said Robert Orr, president of Nova Scotia-based Ocean Nutrition, who spearheaded the working group along with Roche and Pronova and won support of 26 member companies producing and marketing EPA and DHA. "This effort is intended to raise confidence within the industry and among consumers."
The release of the monograph coincides with an American Heart Association campaign urging people to consume omega-3s for heart protection.
Last year, FDA authorized a qualified health claim for EPA and DHA for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Salmon and other fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids may be first in line to benefit from FDA's recent announcement that it is relaxing the requirements for health claims on foods. (See "Food Health-Claim Rules Eased.")
In the United Kingdom, Unilever announced in December that it would begin adding short-chain omega-3 flaxseed-derived alpha-linolenic acid to its entire range of Flora polyunsaturated spreads. In the United States, Unilever produces Country Crock, Promise, Brummel & Brown and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spreads.
Long-chain EPA and DHA are the subject of some 5,000 clinical studies linking these nutrients to heart health. To date, only epidemiological studies on the Mediterranean diet support the health benefits of these short-chain vegetable-based oils.
Sue Blanchard is a senior editor at Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 2/p. 12