GOED Seeks Further Clarification to FTC’s Concerns About Children's Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements That Claims About Brain and Vision Benefits May Be Deceptive

Today, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids (GOED), sought further clarification from the Federal Trade Commission in response to its February 16, 2010 press release concerning omega-3 claims about brain and vision benefits in children.

Harry B. Rice, Ph.D., GOED’s Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, contacted the FTC for clarification on several points. It was not clear if FTC was concerned about claims on products containing short-chain omega-3 fatty acid, Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), compared to the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. According to the FTC, the investigation did not target one or the other, but rather claims related to Omega-3 fatty acids, in general, that were not substantiated. Second, when asked about product and population-specific trials, Rice was told that the FTC does not require product-specific trials, rather claims about an effect (e.g. brain development) need to be substantiated by science on that effect (e.g. brain development). Third, with respect to population-specific trials, the scientific evidence in support of a claim needs to be based on research conducted in the age specified in the claim. That is, if the claim is specific to toddlers two years and above, the research substantiating the claim cannot have been conducted in one year olds.

According to the FTC, 11 companies, promoting various Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, have been notified that they should review their product packaging and labeling to confirm that they are not in violation of federal law by making baseless claims about the benefits of their supplements to children’s brain and visual function and development. Furthermore, the packaging and advertising of the companies in question may be in violation of the FTC Act unless there exists scientific evidence to support the claims. The claims in question relate to boosting, improving, enhancing or supporting brain and visual function and development. Also included are claims relating to intelligence, cognitive function, learning ability, focus, mood, memory, attention, concentration, visual acuity, and eye health.

While there is a large body of scientific evidence in support of claims related to EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids and the positive benefits related to brain health, given that the specific claims and dosages in question have not been publicly communicated, GOED is unable to comment at the present time on FTC’s specific grievances. Should GOED learn that FTC’s opinions are in conflict with its opinion of the available scientific evidence, it will make every effort to share its opinion(s) on the totality of the scientific evidence. According to Adam Ismail, Executive Director of GOED, “We applaud the FTC’s efforts to enforce claims in this area. The market for EPA and DHA omega-3s has grown as a result of investing in sound science, communicating the benefits in an ethical manner, and establishing a deep level of trust with consumers. FTC’s efforts can only help ensure continued growth.”

The press release can be read in its entirety at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/02/omega.shtm.

GOED is a proactive and accountable association of the world’s finest processors, refiners, manufacturers, distributors, marketers, retailers and supporters of products containing Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The Organization's objectives are to promote and protect the category, educate consumers about the health benefits of EPA/DHA, and work with government groups, the healthcare community and the industry, while setting high standards for our business sector. GOED and its members are committed to personal integrity, ethical corporate behavior, public safety and quality assurance. For more information, visit its website at www.goedomega3.com or contact Kira Olsen at +1 (801) 746-1413.

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