Counter-balancing criticisms by consumer organisations on the liberal availability of junk foods in schools, this latest move by school meal provider H&H Foods marks a departure from the norm and could set a precedent.
"Our introduction of omega-3-fortified foods to the Texas school system is merely a first step," said Ruben Hinojosa, vice president of H&H Foods. "Our objective is to introduce omega-3-fortified food products to other school systems that we currently serve in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Oregon."
From next month the omega-3-enhanced products will be available in 38 school districts in the southern-most counties in Texas.
Underlying the agreement, in July 2003 a US senate committee report stated that "learning disabilities and behavioral disorders have been linked to low serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to developing food choices that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids".
"The human brain is approximately 60 per cent fat and therefore it is vitally important that good fats such as omega-3s be a part of every school child's diet," Joe von Rosenberg, president of Omega Protein commented this week.
The company has aims to see the Texan-style deal repeated in all schools across the US with its OmegaPure fish oil brand - refined from short-lived, surface-feeding menhaden - fortifying a range of foods.
A poor third quarter at US fish oil producer in November saw its profits plummet to $740,000 compared with net income of $3.6 million for the third quarter of the previous year. The company said that revenues, down to $32.2 million compared with $35.0 million for the comparable quarter of 2002, were affected by reduced margins, due to less than expected fish catch brought about by adverse weather conditions.
Recent research on fish oils suggest that the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease in elderly men and women. Fish oil supplements in pregnant women have also been linked to higher IQ among their infants.