DHA claims enter EU law books

By Shane Starling at Vitafoods in Geneva

- Last updated on GMT

DHA claims enter EU law books

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid, Docosahexaenoic acid

Controversial DHA omega-3 infant eye claims have entered European Union law after narrowly averting a last-minute challenge in the European Parliament that would have sent the claims back to the drawing board.

Harry Rice, from the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, welcomed the development, which had hung in the balance after intense lobbying of Members of the European Parliament from those for and against the claims that apply to infant formula follow-on products marketed at infants between the ages of 6-12 months.

“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,”​ opined Rice.

“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. Fortunately, the claim was authorized for use, but not without some significant lobbying efforts.”

From May 26, 2011, three claims can be made on foods on the EU market:

1. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake contributes to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age.

Conditions of use: Information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 100mg of DHA. When the claim is used on follow-on formula, the food shall contain at least 0.3% of the total fatty acids as DHA.

2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) maternal intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants.

Conditions of use: Information shall be given to pregnant and lactating women that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 200 mg of DHA in addition to the recommended daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids for adults, i.e. 250 mg DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The claim can be used only for food which provides a daily intake of at least 200 mg DHA.

3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants.

Conditions of use: Information shall be given to pregnant and lactating women that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 200 mg of DHA in addition to the recommended daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids for adults, i.e. 250 mg DHA and EPA. The claim can be used only for food which provides a daily intake of at least 200 mg DHA.

Brain optimization claim rejected

A rejected claim also entered the lawbooks. It sated: "Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) contribute to the optimal brain development of infants and young children”.

That rejection means the claim will be banned from November, 2011.

Rice added: “While disappointing, the writing was on the wall for the rejection of the brain development claim. Based on the available scientific evidence, the Member States should have been able to come to consensus on the conditions of use. Hopefully, additional research in the future will bring them together for consensus.”

DSM-Martek director of scientific affairs, Rob Winwood, told NutraIngredients at the Vitafoods trade show that the new law was, “a major step forward”.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy, Suppliers

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