FDA OKS Omega-3 Health Claim on Food Labels

It's become accepted wisdom that omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. Even though studies are still going on, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided food manufacturers may state a qualified health claim on labels of foods containing the substance.

The fatty acids are typically contained in oily fish, such as salmon, lake trout, tuna and herring. While omega-3 acids are not essential to the diet, scientific evidence indicates they may be beneficial in reducing coronary heart disease.

"Coronary heart disease is a significant health problem that causes 500,000 deaths annually in the United States," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Acting FDA Commissioner. "This new qualified health claim for omega-3 fatty acids should help consumers as they work to improve their health by identifying foods that contain these important compounds."

While ongoing research is not conclusive, the FDA has decided to allow the following "qualified," meaning limited, health claim on foods containing omega-3 acids:

"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One serving of [name of food] provides [x] grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. [See nutrition information for total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.]

FDA recommends that consumers not exceed more than a total of 3 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids, with no more than 2 grams per day from a dietary supplement.