Omega 3 Fish Oils – Something Fishy with New Legislation
If you buy various margarines and spreads such as sun flower and vegetable oil based spreads the labling will say they’re good for you because they contain Omega 3 oil.
Now 20 of the world’s leading scientists who specialise in fats have signed a petition saying that the rules should be changed because that is misleading – Professor Jack Winkler of London Metropoloitan University has co-ordinated the petition and this interview is transcribed.
What’s happening is that some companies are putting vegetable or cheap fish oils into their products and slapping a strong claim that they are high in omega 3 which implies that they will deliver the same health benfits for health and heart as the more expensive fish oils but they don’t.
The new regualtions make this legally permissable it would legalise the deception to consumers.
Fish Oils Best Omega 3? What about flowers and vegetable Oils?
You say fish oils – I thought that some of the omega 3 came from vegetables and plants such as sun flowers?
Thats right and they are cheaper – the companies want to use cheaper plant oils but use a claim that implies they are as good as more expensive fish oils and that is somehting that this new regualtion would make legally permissable even though it is substantively misleading.
Fish Oils Best for Omega 3s
The cheaper oils aren’t actually bad for you?
No – we actually want to claim – we have a big public health problem here – we eat too few of these healthy omega 3s – the best way to get them is to eat fish, but we don’t eat enough fish and we never will.
Add Omega 3 oil to food people like to eat
The second best way to do it is to take the food that people actually like to eat, and put the healthy omega 3s into them, fortify them. If we do that the companies will gain a commercial advantage and public health will be improved but we’ve got to have rules to make sure they do it properly and this rule will allow them to engage in trickery.
This rule is a European regulation and if it goes ahead things will effectively stay the same.
Claims such as “heart healthy omega 3 and 6” will still be able to be made even on cheap sun flower and vegetable oil based products.
When the new law came in in 2006 there was a transition period – so all claims that existed before the law could continue but that transition period expires on the 19th january 2010 – there is a rush to get legislation in place but are making a cods of it – technicla term in the fatty food science industry.
Rather than put “heart healthy omega 3” on the label we want them to be able to put “high in omega 3” but the only if they are the real omega 3s – the omega 3 from fish oil that deliver the cardiovascular benefits, the mental benefits.
If we do that then we give manufacturers the incentive to put good things into food – if they only put the cheap stuff in they shouldn’t be allowed to make the healthy claims.