Infant Visual Health Claims for Omega-3s Approved by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
May 18, 2011
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been as tough or tougher than the FDA on allowing health claims on food products. They base their decisions on reviewing the totality of the science to support the claims. The vast majority of submissions in the last 2 years have been rejected with only a small handful making the cut.
Hot of the presses is the approval of a claim for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids related to infant visual and brain health. Starting May 26, 2011, the following claims will be allowed on infant formulas and other foods in Europe:
1. DHA intake contributes to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age.
A daily intake of 100 mg DHA is necessary to achieve this benefit, and the food must contain at least 0.3% of the total fatty acids as DHA.
2. DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the fetus and breastfed infants.
The claim can be used only for food which provides a daily intake of at least 200 mg DHA, and information must be provided to pregnant and lactating women that 200 mg of DHA in addition to the recommended daily amount of omega-3 for adults (250 mg DHA and EPA) is necessary to achieve the benefit.
3. DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the fetus and breastfed infants.
The same conditions as for claim 2 also apply to claim 3.
A claim regarding the effects of DHA and arachidonic acid (ARA) on optimal brain development in infants was rejected.
The claims very nearly went the way of most other submitted claims, but were saved by heavy lobbying efforts. Said Harry Rice of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3, “Despite a favorable opinion by qualified majority of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health Section on General Law on the DHA visual development claim, it came close to the chopping block. It had nothing to do with the science and everything to do with politics. We can’t escape the politics in this industry, but at the end of the day, science needs to prevail.”
For more information on this development, click here.
Risa Schulman, PhD
Expert, Healthy Food and Dietary Supplement Science, Marketing and Regulatory
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