FDA: QUALIFIED THUMBS-UP ON OMEGA-3

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has given its OK to a qualified health claim that EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in dietary supplements may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and that's good news for anyone selling fish, industry sources said.Even though the Oct. 31 FDA decision pertains to dietary supplements, not fish, and even though the claim itself is qualified, the

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has given its OK to a qualified health claim that EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in dietary supplements may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and that's good news for anyone selling fish, industry sources said.

Even though the Oct. 31 FDA decision pertains to dietary supplements, not fish, and even though the claim itself is qualified, the announcement was hailed by the National Seafood Educators, Richmond Beach, Wash.

"By focusing attention on omega-3s, the FDA's statement gives us -- and retailers and suppliers -- a chance to talk more about them, to educate consumers," said Evie Hansen, the NSE's director of marketing.

Coming on the heels of the American Heart Association's new dietary guidelines, issued last month, the FDA decision has special impact.

"It reinforces the Heart Association's recommendation to eat fish high in omega-3s twice a week and it lends credence to our message," Hansen said.

The health claim allowed by the FDA states: "The scientific evidence about whether omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease is suggestive, but not conclusive. Studies in the general population have looked at diets containing fish and it is not known whether diets or omega-3 fatty acids in fish may have a possible effect on a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. It is not known what effect omega-3 fatty acids may or may not have on risk of CHD in the general population."