This year, 2017, marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED)
It’s been an eventful ten years, complete with challenges and many rewards. Perhaps the greatest reward of all is knowing that we are improving the lives of people around the world as we work to increase the intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Although the association has faced its share of struggles during the years, industry and consumers alike have reaped many rewards. Below describes but a small number.
After 6 years of formally working on the fish oil standard, the 25th Session of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) agreed to forward the Fish Oil Standard to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for adoption at its July meeting. This process is just a formality, because there’s no reason to believe the CAC will not follow the recommendation of the CCFO.
The standard being adopted is considered to be a win for the industry because it should not restrict free trade. And although 6 years may seem like a long time, consider that the issue of elaborating a standard for fish oils was first introduced more than 40 years ago during the Sixth Session (17–20 November 1969) of the CCFO.
Discussions continued at the Seventh (25–29 March 1974), Eighth (24–28 November 1975) and Ninth Sessions (28 November–2 December 1977), when the effort was finally abandoned — at least temporarily. This new standard has the potential to help standardise regulations around the world for fish oil quality and the identification of specific named fish oils.
In the EU, EPA and DHA have been recognised with more positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) than any other nutrient. Given the strict regulatory regime under which the evaluations are conducted, this is nothing short of the verification of the well-established benefits associated with long-chain omega-3s.
The benefits associated with the EPA/DHA claims that have been approved to date include the following: brain function, brain development, vision, visual development, eye development, heart, triglycerides and blood pressure. Nearly every EPA/DHA claim in the EU was supported by dossiers developed by GOED and its members.
Since GOED was founded in 2006, the EU, China and Australia have set a variety of new recommended intake values. This was work that the industry worked collaboratively on with nutrition scientists and governments alike, but now also means that nearly 2 billion people are receiving better nutritional advice.
Most of these recommendations are based on science supporting reductions in coronary heart disease mortality, but there are additional recommendations for pregnant and nursing women and children designed to aid infant and child development.
Science has been the bedrock of the omega-3 industry
In 2011, the GOED Exchange was introduced as a forum for stakeholders to learn and engage in discussions concerning issues and opportunities directly facing the omega-3 industry. We’re currently planning the fifth Exchange, which will be held on 6–8 February 2018 in Seattle (Washington, USA). The venue will be the Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
The conference agenda is currently being finalised and the official GOED Exchange website should be live in the spring, with registration opening shortly thereafter. Past venue sites include Salt Lake City (Utah, USA), Boston (Massachusetts, USA) and Tenerife, Spain.
Sales of omega-3 ingredients have certainly matured during the last 3 years; but, during the time GOED has existed, the ingredient market has grown from $650 million to more than $2.1 billion today. In that same timeframe, the finished product market has grown from $7.6 billion to $31.4 billion, driven by new product launches and the incorporation of omega-3s into products such as infant formula.
The market has also changed dramatically; multiple new omega-3 ingredients from a variety of sources have been introduced to the market. And although GOED cannot claim credit for the growth of the market, we believe the work of its members to harmonise regulations around the world and help the industry to meet high quality standards has led to continued growth in the sector without any significant food safety incidents tied to our products.
Science has been the bedrock of the omega-3 industry, so it is appropriate that we talk about this last. The body of science has more than doubled in the last 10 years, with more than 18,500 scientific papers and 2000 human clinical trials having been completed since 2006. This has led to a much greater understanding of the effects of omega-3s and continues to raise new questions that will be explored in coming years.
GOED has funded meta-analyses on the impact of omega-3s in coronary heart disease, cardiac death, blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and prostate cancer.
Many of these papers have been used to support health claim filings, but have also identified new populations that may see even greater benefits from omega-3s. In addition, we are currently funding work to understand what happens to omega-3 oils as they oxidise with time that will hopefully help industry to develop better products.