Health Canada has expanded its 2003 Novel Foods approval of Ocean Nutrition's MEG-3 to higher doses and more foods, giving the microencapsulated fish-oil supplier a head-start on new entrants to the market.
Ocean Nutrition's branded microencapsulated omega-3 ingredient was first approved for use in Canada in eight foods, and at a dosage of 50mg per serving.
Now, however, following further safety assessment by Health Canada, 100mg per serving is permitted in virtually all foods.
"There is a very limited list of foods MEG-3 cannot be used it," VP marketing and new product development Ian Lucas told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
Lucas said that he is aware not aware of any other microencapsulated omega-3 from fish oil that is approved in Canada.
Omega-3 has been widely studied for a range of benefits, including heart health, cognitive function and joint health. Fish oil is widely agreed to be the best source, since it is rich in DHA (docosahexaenioc acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the most bioavailable forms of the essential fatty acid.
The earlier approval had proved restrictive for some food manufacturers. Other omega-3 containing foods sold in the country use ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a precursor of DHA/EPA from sources such as flaxseed and linseed. ALA must first be converted by the body before it can be used, and some of the benefit is lost along the way.
Lucas said he expects that some of those companies that have used plant-derived omega-3 up until now in order to get into the market may look to changing to fish oil.
Although this news gives Ocean Nutrition a clear competitive advantage, Lucas is under no illusions that this will last forever.
"In the future, through the right steps, other suppliers will be able to get their ingredients approved as well," he said. But it is expected to be at least a year before this comes to pass.