Photo by suchitra prints/Flickr CC
The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has just rejected a proposal from Merck to allow it to use a health claim stating that omega-3 supplements promote eye and brain health in infants. Merck wants moms to take omega-3 supplements during pregnancy and give such supplements to their infants. EFSA reviewed nearly 90 studies on this topic and concluded that the study results were not "informative." In other words, they showed no benefit. Imagine. The EFSA demands scientific substantiation of health claims. I wish we could do that.
Here's another example from the pomegranate folks. They do brilliant advertising, but this time the British are complaining that these marketers went too far when they posted billboards stating that pomegranate ("antioxidant powerhouse") juice will help you cheat death. The British advertising standards agency balked. Here too, pesky science gets in the way. Studies not only fail to support a benefit of antioxidants but sometimes show harm.
Our Congress, however, forces the FDA to permit health claims, no matter how absurd. Try the FDA-allowed, "qualified" health claim for omega-3's: "supportive but not conclusive evidence shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease" [my emphasis].