Codex Nutrient Reference Value for EPA, DHA Working Group Report Posted

Nov 20, 2017

According to The GOED Current, the newsletter of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED; Salt Lake City), the report of the Codex electronic working group (eWG) on establishing a nutrient reference value (NRV) for the long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA has been posted to the Codex Alimentarius Commission website. An NRV is essentially a recommended intake used for labeling and health claims.

The effort to establish an NRV for EPA and DHA was agreed upon in 2014 at the 36th session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) meeting. The associated eWG, co-chaired by Chile and the Russian Federation, was tasked with assessing the most current scientific evidence on the topic, and with subsequently making recommendations to set a possible Codex NRV for EPA and DHA.

At the CCNFSDU’s 37th session, in 2015, the eWG proposed setting an NRV of 250 mg/day for combined EPA+DHA as relates to risk reduction of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) events, basing their decision on information and data from three World Health Organization (WHO) and/or Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO consultation reports, three RASBs’ opinions and a summary of randomized controlled trial (RCT) meta-analyses and systematic reviews published since 2012. However, as views on the proposal diverged, with some delegations believing establishment of the NRV would be premature, the Committee decided to reestablish the eWG for further work.

GOED, which provided comments on the omega-3 reports to the co-chairs of the eWG, states in The GOED Current that though it “remains concerned about the eventual adoption of an NRV for EPA+DHA, the eWG report clearly reflects points made by GOED in its 25 September and 5 October comments.” As an organization, GOED is heartened by the eWG recommendations requiring continued work on the NRV. “Given the dissent expressed by many country delegations,” it stated, “this would be a positive outcome and would provide further opportunity to convince country delegations that there is sufficient evidence to support the adoption of an NRV for EPA and DHA.”

The CCNFSDU will consider the eWG report at its meeting, taking place in Berlin, Germany, on December 4 through 8, 2017, where participating country delegations will decide whether or not to adopt an NRV or if more work is needed to arrive at a decision.

Earlier in the month, GOED also participated in a U.S.-sponsored pre-CCNFSDU public forum where the U.S. communicated that it currently does not support establishing an NRV for EPA+DHA. During the public forum, GOED was the sole group in attendance or on the phone to provide oral comments on the NRV for EPA and DHA, with no questions asked afterwards.