EFSA health claim opinion

EFSA rejects fish oil memory claim

By Annie Harrison-Dunn contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pierre Fabre Medicament claimed its DHA-enriched fish oil helped slow age-related cognitive decline in areas such as memory and executive function. ©iStock/iLexx
Pierre Fabre Medicament claimed its DHA-enriched fish oil helped slow age-related cognitive decline in areas such as memory and executive function. ©iStock/iLexx

Related tags: Nutrition, Cognition

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has thrown out a health claim for a ‘DHA-enriched fish oil’ and the reduction of age-related cognitive decline.

The claim filed by French pharmaceutical firm Pierre Fabre Medicament referred to the company’s mystery DHA-enriched fish oil V0137.

Pierre Fabre Medicament submitted five human studies to support the article 13.5 claim the fish oil helps to slow the age-related cognitive decline in domains such as memory and executive function”.

Yet four of the studies were carried out with microalgae or fish oils other than V0137, meaning “no conclusions could be drawn”​ for the purpose of the claim, according to the assessment panel.

The last study was a multi-centre, randomised, placebo-controlled, three-year parallel trial in 1,680 people aged over 70 and at risk of cognitive decline.

Changes in cognitive function was assessed by a composite cognitive score, yet EFSA said there was “no statistically significant differences” ​between the groups at 36 months within this proprietary unpublished study.

“The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of V0137 and a reduced loss of cognitive function,”​ EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) wrote in its final opinion​.

At the time of application under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) the company declined to give more information on V0137, which it described as a "novel omega-3-based product"​ it was "still studying".  

Pierre Fabre Medicament did not respond to our request for comment in time for the publication of this latest article.

Remember the rejections  

This opinion follows the rebuff of a similar claim from Dutch nutrition giant DSM​ in June, in which EFSA rejected the DHA-memory dossier containing 15 human intervention and 13 observational studies. 

There are nine approved health claims for DHA in Europe concerning other health issues including normal brain function, vision, infant development, heart function and blood pressure.

However memory claims submissions have not been successful, with nearly 30 memory claims for DHA and other ingredients thrown out so far.

Nonetheless memory was the ninth biggest health positioning for food supplements in Western Europe in 2015.

This equated to a retail value of more than €200m according to Euromonitor International. 

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