Omega-3 in infant formula world first

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Infant formula Milk Omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid

Friesland Foods Kievit has launched what it is calling a world first omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 (ARA) encapsulated combination ingredient that can be incorporated into hypoallergenic infant formula.

The DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachinodonic acid)-based ingredient is free of proteins and other milk-based allergens that are common in infant formulas, and caters to the growing rate of hypoallergenicity among infants.

Caregivers concerned about potential for allergic reactions, which include diarrhea and vomiting, atopic dermatitis and wheezing, are also purchasing such products.

Hypoallergenic formulas account for up to 20 per cent of the infant formula market in places like Germany and the Netherlands, and are growing by 10 per cent each year as western infant allergy rates rises, the company said.

The new ingredient, called Vana Sana DH 7 IF, is sourced from fish oil, algae and malt and follows DSM’s launch of a fish oil aimed at the infant formula market this week.

Vana Sana DH 7 IF will sell at a premium of less than 20 per cent over regular DHA and ARA ingredients.

Formulation hurdles

Previously long chain fatty acids could not be easily dry-blended into hypoallergenic infant formulas because they were traditionally blended with dairy proteins that are not suitable in hypoallergenic formulas.

Friesland developed a starch-based alternative that brand manager for baby foods, Frank Systermans, said incorporated its dry-blending and encapsulation technology, that allows the fatty acids, for the first time, to be added into the formula in a powder state.

“This is a big step forward,”​ Systermans told “We’ve employed our technologies to develop an ingredient that means hypoallergenic infants can gain the benefits of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in their formulas.”

“It is now much easier for infant formula manufacturers to add ARA and DHA to their products.”


It is estimated six per cent of newborn babies are allergic to milk proteins. The problem is less pronounced in Asian and latin American markets where soy milk consumption rates are much higher, rather than any inherent physiological discrepancy.

Friesland Foods Kievit is targeting the ingredient at all global markets.

DHA and ARA’s benefits include improved cognitive, immune system, heart and eye health.

Friesland Foods Kievit’s spray drying and encapsulation technology may also be applied to its probiotic ingredients, as well as high-dose DHA offerings including those of its customers such as global leader Martek Biosciences. The technology has also been used with medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and other specialist infant nutrients.

Hypoallergenic infant formula is typically made from milk that has had its protein content hydrolysed, often appearing on-market as lactose-free or ‘HA formula’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends minimal infant consumption​of 40mg/kg/day for ARA and 20mg/kg/day for DHA for infants.

Friesland Foods Kievit is part of the Dutch Royal Friesland Foods group and focuses on developing functional ingredients for the beverages, enhanced nutrition, infant formula, savoury and bakery sectors.

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