Fish oil crisis still feared despite EC extension

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, European union, European commission, Eu

The European Commission has decided to extend the deadline for fish
oil processing firms to be approved under new hygiene laws - but it
is still not enough to quell fears of a Europe-wide shortage of
omega-3.

Both the European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) and the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) have warned of dire repercussions across the bloc for the supply and availability of fish oil, unless changes to the legislation are made. The hygiene changes, under regulation (EC) 854/2004, aim to improve food safety throughout the supply chain and require all businesses processing fish oils, including omega-3, to be officially approved by the companies' local authority. Both GOED and EHPM have spoken out against the hygiene rule's timescale, which gives a deadline of November for processing plants to become compliant with hygiene checks. This has now been extended by another year following a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. However, despite the extension Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED, said more still needs to be done. He told NutraIngredients.com: "It is good news in that there is more time to address the issue now, but the legislation still needs to be changed. "The fact remains that in its current form the regulations will still cost consumers more and will not improve food safety. If anything, it will put additional burden on national healthcare systems and the loss of EU jobs, neither of which was the intention of the legislation.​" GOED is working on a report which would be able to give a figure for how much the changes might impact financially on the fish oil industry. The group insists current hygiene standards of crude fish oil production are acceptable and similar to conditions already accepted by the EU for gelatin production. Ismail said the problem is that as most of the fish oil is supplied by firms outside of the EU, there would not be the economic incentive to comply with the regulations. GOED also fears any financial implication to comply with the regulation would be passed on to the consumers. He added: "So even if there was something the EU could do to motivate the crude fish oil producers, it still would not benefit EU consumers, refiners or finished product manufacturers​." Omega-3 from fish oil is a rich source of EPA and DHA for the 50-80 million European consumers who use omega-3s to maintain heart health, brain health and overall wellness. The market was worth around €160m (£108m) in 2004 - and is expected to grow at around 8 per cent a year until 2010.

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