The brand will represent all forms of fish oil ingredients produced by Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC) and comes with the tagline, "trust the source".
Marketed under this brand therefore will be the company's GRAS powdered food ingredient, and the complete line of eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) dietary supplement ingredients.
Ian Lucas, vice president of marketing for ONC, said that by asking consumers to "trust the source", the company was setting out its stand as a brand that promises "purity, quality and reliability."
MEG-3 was the first and is still the only fish oil ingredient to be verified by the US Pharmacopeia (USP) verification program, which sets the industry standards recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Eleven of ONC's fish oil ingredient products were audited by USP during a process that included an independent quality and safety analysis, an on-site good manufacturing practice (GMP) audit, and an analysis of the support documentation tracing the history of each product back to the original raw material source and tracing the production history back three generations.
The fish oils were tested for the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for noxious contaminants such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead, and dioxins and these substances were found to be within acceptable limits.
ONC also hopes the brand will benefit from the FDA's recent heart health claim for foods including Omega-3 EPA and DHA. The company claims that its products "have a higher nutritional density than any competitive products and have superior mixing qualities, making them a cost efficient source of Omega-3 EPA/DHA for the food market."
The FDA announced earlier this month that conventional foods containing EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids could now carry a qualified health claim stating that they may help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
"Coronary heart disease is a significant health problem that causes 500,000 deaths annually in the US," said Dr. Lester Crawford, acting FDA commissioner. "This health claim should help consumers to improve their health by identifying foods that contain these important compounds."
The decision was widely welcomed in the industry, though the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) expressed its disappointment at the FDA's failure to award a full, unqualified health claim to omega-3 and its ability to reduce the risk of CHD, for which they had petitioned.
In 2000, the FDA announced a similar qualified health claim for dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids.
The FDA recommends that consumers not exceed more than a total of 3 grams per day of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, with no more than 2 grams per day from a dietary supplement.
Of all the functional food ingredients available, the future looks most promising for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly in the US, according to recent research by consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan. The research commented that while the more mature European omega-3 PUFA market was likely to stabilise at an annual growth rate of eight percent, some key market participants in the US are experiencing growth rates of over 20 percent.
Kathy Brownlie, an industry analyst from Frost & Sullivan, explained omega-3 has such growth potential because of the health benefits it is regularly purported to bring.
"Increased media coverage and product availability have helped differentiate omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs from saturated fats, promoting omega-3 PUFAs as 'good fats', which are an essential part of the diet," she said. "Most industry experts agree that more omega-3 PUFAs need to be incorporated into our diets."
Scientific evidence is growing to substantiate the role of omega-3 PUFAs not only for protecting heart health but also prevention of cancer and other diseases.
The ingredient has moreover seen support from low-carb diets such as Atkins, which promotes omega-3 fatty acids as part of their eating plans.