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Seafish on Omega 3 Health Claims and Labels

by the Fish Site Editor
20 January 2009, at 12:00am

UK - Seafish has recently released its latest advice on how the European Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation will specifically affect the promotion of seafood as a unique source of Omega 3, and on the new rules relating to Omega 3 labelling.

The European Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation EC 1924/2006 (NHCR) came into force on 1 July 2007. It controls any nutrition, health and disease reduction claims made about a food.

“Whilst a lot has been written on this topic there is still some confusion for those companies wishing to use the Omega 3 health benefit claim for the first time. This is of course particularly important for the seafood industry,” said Fiona Wright, Seafish Legislation Department.


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"We are in a transition period. All claims must now be approved but that will take time."
Fiona Wright, Seafish Legislation Department

“We are in a transition period. All claims must now be approved but that will take time. So health claims made on products before 1 July 2007 such as ‘High in Omega 3’ or ‘Rich in Omega 3’, can continue to be used until 19 January 2010, assuming they comply with existing food law. The Commission is expected to publish its definitive list of approved health claims in 2010.”

With so many issues to consider the new Seafish guidance note answers some of the most frequently asked questions about which law applies to certain claims and products, and how the health benefits of fish can be communicated outside of the Regulation. The guide can be accessed on the Seafish website, here.

The first health claims submitted are undergoing consideration by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), after which the Commission will decide which claims to approve. These include 12 health claims relating to Omega 3, including the claim for heart health already approved by the UK Joint Health Claims Initiative (JHCI). Many of the Omega 3 claims use the ‘article 13’ route for claims based on established science.

“It is also worth noting that is it possible to make claims which fall outside the scope of the new Regulation. Government messages are not included, therefore the ‘2 a week’ message to encourage the consumption of two portions of fish a week one of which should be oily, can be legitimately used on products without complying with the NHCR.

“Equally the nutritional panel on packaged seafood products also falls outside the scope of the Regulation. The beneficial long chain Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can be listed here. Under new nutrient profiles fish is defined as a product containing more than 50% seafood. This can contain 500mg sodium and 10g saturated fat per 100g. General nutritional data indicates that this should mean that most seafood products will meet the criteria and will be able to make use of the health and nutrition claims for Omega-3,” said Fiona.

The Seafish Legislation team advises the industry on its current legal requirements and engages with government on any proposed changes to legislation affecting the seafood industry.

the Fish Site Editor