The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has just raised the bar for manufacturing quality long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids.
After a year's work, CRN's Working Group has developed a voluntary monograph for long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids that identifies desirable limits for measures of oxidation in the polyunsaturated oils that are susceptible to degradation because of the unsaturated bonds characteristic of EPA and DHA.
"This monograph includes standards for safety, efficacy and quality, as well as analytical methods for testing products," says 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 in long-chain omega-3s because this is a category that is about to explode."
The timing of the monograph is excellent because the American Heart Association has just begun urging people to consume omega-3s for heart protection.
Last year, FDA authorised 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.
While long-chain EPA and DHA is the subject of some 5000 clinical studies linking these nutrients to heart health, Unilever announced in December it will begin adding short-chain omega-3 flaxseed-derived alpha-linolenic acid to its entire range of Flora polyunsaturated spreads. To date, only epidemiological studies on the Mediterranean diet support the health benefits of these short-chain vegetable-based oils.