CRN Working Group Raises the Quality Bar for Long Chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA Products

SAVANNAH, GA., October 8, 2002– The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) Omega-3 Working Group today announced it has ratified a voluntary monograph intended to raise the bar for the quality of long chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA products marketed in North America, in order to ensure greater consumer confidence in these beneficial nutrients. The announcement was made at the CRN 2002 Annual Conference.

The Working Group, with an international membership including 24 companies that supply or market long chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA globally, has been working on the voluntary monograph for over a year. Broad input was solicited from industry as well as from other parties with an interest in omega-3 fatty acids, including regulators, standard-setting bodies, academics, and consumer groups.

The monograph specifies a uniform standard of analysis, quality and purity criteria for long chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA, and manufacturers and marketers throughout the industry are urged to voluntarily adopt these standards. Importantly, the monograph identifies desirable limits for measures of oxidation in these polyunsaturated oils, which are uniquely susceptible to oxidative damage because of the large number of unsaturated bonds naturally characteristic of EPA and DHA. Maximum limits are established for peroxides and for anisidine, two indicators of oxidation. In addition, a combined measure (called Totox) is established, to indicate that an acceptable oil should not reach the maximum for both measures.

It is recognized that fish, which are the primary natural source of EPA and DHA, exist in an environment that exposes them to undesirable contaminants. When properly refined, long chain omega-3 oils reduce contaminants to trace or non-detectable levels. Thus, highly refined oils in supplement form are superior to fish as a source of purified EPA and DHA. The monograph establishes stringent limits on any remaining traces of these substances, including dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals such as mercury. The recommended limits are consistent with current or emerging European standards and with limits established under California’s Prop 65.

The CRN voluntary monograph provides a reliable guide in the purchasing and marketing of high quality long chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA. The CRN Working Group intends to follow up on this monograph by submitting it for the consideration of official standard-setting bodies, including U.S. Pharmacopeia, American Oil Chemists Society, and Association of Official Analytical Chemists. The intent is that standards equivalent to the voluntary monograph would be adopted by official bodies, providing added incentives to produce and market oils in accordance with these standards, for the benefit of the consuming public. Within the industry trade, the objective is to encourage broad compliance with the voluntary monograph by January 2003.

The scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of long chain Omega-3 EPA and DHA is impressive and is continually increasing. Compliance with this monograph is intended to improve the quality of these products and consequently increase consumer use. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a qualified health claim for EPA and DHA for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is based in Washington, D.C. and is one of the dietary supplement industry’s leading trade associations.


Note: A copy of the CRN Omega-3 Working Group monograph and summary of the target values are available on the CRN website by using the links above. The following is a listing of the companies that are part of the CRN Omega-3 Working Group.


Robert Orr, Ocean Nutrition Canada — Chairman
Annette Dickinson, Council for Responsible Nutrition
Claire Packer, Croda Oleochemicals
Ian Newton, Roche Vitamins Inc.
Baldur Hjaltason, Pronova Biocare a.s.
Espen Thomassen, Denofa
Legal counsel: Stephen H. McNamara

Corporate Members of the Working Group

Access Business Group
Arista Industries Inc.
BASF Corporation
Berg Lipidtech a.s.
Bioriginal Food & Science Corporation
Clover Corporation Ltd.
Croda Oleochemicals
Leiner Health Products
Loders-Croklaan LIPID Nutrition
Marine Nutriceutical Corporation
Maritex a.s.
MARTEK Biosciences a.s.
Napro Pharma a.s.
Nordic Naturals
Ocean Nutrition Canada
Omega Protein, Inc.
Pharmline Inc.
Pronova Biocare a.s.
Roche Vitamins Inc.
Seven Seas Ltd.
Soft Gel Technologies, Inc.
Spectrum Organic Products Inc.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.