GOED chief on the oxidation issue, meta-analyses, and a new clinical trials database

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) continues to commission key studies to support the quality and efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids, with recent meta-analyses of the health benefits starting to impact policy and regulatory conversations.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West show in Las Vegas, Adam Ismail, GOED’s executive director, talked about some of the key issues facing the sector and the organization’s initiatives to move the needle on these topics.

Questions about oxidation of omega-3 oils have become headline grabbers over the past couple of years, with scientists in New Zealand reporting that only 9% of the fish oils in the NZ market met label claims for EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and 17% were below PV limits (a measure of oxidation).

In response, GOED commissioned tests​ of 47 fish oil supplements purchased at retail in New Zealand and found that 91% met EPA/DHA label claims, according to strict GOED standards, while most also met regulatory limits for oxidation.

Similar testing has also taken place in the US, Ismail told us.

“The US market is the most important and largest market for omega-3s in the world and so we did the same thing in the US, but involved more labs. Those results haven’t been published yet but we found the same levels of compliance of oxidation standards and we also measured EPA and DHA content compared to the label and only one product contained less than 90% of the EPA and DHA label claim, which is required by regulation,” ​he said. “We have high confidence that there’s good compliance in the industry.

Ismail also revealed that GOED is delving into what happens when oils oxidize. “We measure peroxide and para anisidine values, but they are markers for oxidation, they’re not measuring what specific aldehydes, ketones, oxylipins, hydroxysterols, all these other compounds that are the products of oxidation and we want to measure how those are created. So we’ve got studies ongoing with three universities to measure that.”

What has been the impact of the GOED-commissioned meta-analyses?

GOED has also commissioned several meta-analyses, notably on blood pressure, prostate cancer risk, coronary heart disease (CHD), and recently cardiac death risk​.

“We’re seeing them really start to impact the policy and regulatory side. We’ve tried to promote the studies when they came out, but part of the reason we did it was not to get media headlines but to try to clarify some of the questions,”​ said Ismail.

“The qualified health claim in the US focused on coronary heart disease, and that’s where much of the marketing was for a long time. Some of the studies that have questioned the benefits of omega-3s focus on cardiovascular disease, and a lot of people don’t realize that’s different from coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease doesn’t include vascular conditions like strokes so we felt that was muddying the waters, and we wanted to clarify the science.”

Why is GOED building out a clinical trials database?

Ismail also discussed GOED’s clinical trials database, which is under construction.

“One of the issues when you have a lot of science like omega-3s do – 30,000 papers and 4,000 randomized control trials in humans – it’s a lot of information and it’s really complex to analyze. You have to be able to distill it. That’s part of what meta-analysis does,” ​he explained.

“We wanted to make that process easier so we’re taking all of the outcome data, the subject data, baseline data and throughout the trials for all of the human clinical trials, and putting that into a structured, searchable database.”

GOED Exchange 2018

These topics and more will be discussed at the upcoming GOED Exchange​, February 6-8, 2018 in Seattle. For more information and to register, please click HERE​.

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