Codex Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) for EPA and DHA for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) agreed in 2014 to recommend new work to develop and add a potential new Codex nutrient reference value (NRV) to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) intended for the general population for labelling purposes in relation to the risk of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The  project document for the new work will be considered for approval by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the 38th session, in July 2015. 

An electronic Working Group (eWG) co-chaired by Chile and The Russian Federation has been established which will:

  • Assess the most current scientific evidence in line with the General Principles.
  • Make recommendations to set a potential Codex NRV-NCD for the total of Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, in accordance with the general principles for NRV-NCD as set out in the Annex to the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (CAC/ GL 2-1985).

IFFO is participating in the eWG along with 21 country members and 8 other Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs).

The first Consultation Paper for 2015 on the development and addition of a potential new Codex NRV for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) intended for the general population for labelling purposes in relation to the risk of NCDs has been sent to the eWG (received April 2015).

Supporting documents have been submitted by The Russian Federation, Chile and IADSA (with support from GOED) that reviews the main scientific evidence available on the beneficial effects of DHA and EPA intake for health according to the general principles to establish NRV-NCD. The consultation paper, along with the support documents is available for download below.

Questions put to the eWG for discussion when they meet:

Question 1

Do you agree on each RASB included in this review? If not, which one(s) would you include? Please justify.

Question 2

Considering the reference terms of this eWG, do you agree on considering only the following benefits to establish a NRV-NCD in this electronic working group?:

  • Primary reduction of death risk from coronary heart diseases
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Other cardiovascular benefits

If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 3

Do you agree that the totality of evidence available is convincing or generally recognised for each one of the following benefits?:

  • Primary reduction of death risk from coronary heart diseases
  • Sudden cardiac death?
  • Other cardiovascular benefits

If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Note: If you have information or additional evidence different from the one reviewed data in this first consultation document and its annexes, that meets the criteria established in point 3.2.2.1 of the General Principles for Establishing NRV-NCDs, please forward it to the Russian Federation and Chilean co-chairs.

Question 4 

Do you agree that DHA and EPA intake is sufficiently important for public health, and that all information reviewed so far justifies the establishment of an NRV-NCD for food labeling purposes? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 5

Do you agree that the 1st criterion in Section 3.2.2.1 is met and reviewed and evaluated scientific evidence supports the NRV-NCD establishment for EPA and DHA? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 6

Considering the reference terms established in this eWG, do you agree on considering the establishment a specific NRV-NCD value for EPA and DHA combined and not for total omega 3? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 7

Considering the reference terms established in this eWG, do you agree on considering establishing a specific NRV-NCD combined value for EPA + DHA in any proportion? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 8

Do you agree that the reference population should be individuals older than 4 years, men and non-pregnant/non-lactating women? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 9

Do you agree in establishing a single daily Nutrient Reference Value – Noncommunicable Disease (NRV-NCD) for EPA and DHA combined for the general population in an amount between 250 – 500 mg/day? If you disagree, please justify your answer supported by scientific references.

Question 10

If you replied affirmatively to question 9, what Reference Value amount for EPA and DHA would you propose, expecting the mentioned health benefits? Please justify your answer.

The deadline to submit  comments to the Chairs is 29 May 2015

The next CODEX Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) meeting is taking place 23-27th November 2015 in Bad Soden, Germany.  In addition, the Council for Responsible Nutrition-International (CRN-I) is holding a symposium “Nutrient Reference Value – Non-Communicable Disease (NRV-NCD) Endpoints: A case for both essential and non-essential nutrients” on 20 November 2015 in Kronberg ahead of the CODEX meeting where three speakers will present on omega-3s.