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Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to alpha linolenic acid and contribution to brain and nerve tissue development pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006

EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2130 [8 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2130
  EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) Panel Members Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen. Acknowledgment The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Claims: Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Marina Heinonen, Hannu Korhonen, Martinus Løvik, Ambroise Martin, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Inge Tetens, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion. Contact nda@efsa.europa.eu
Type: Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel On request from: European Commission Question number: EFSA-Q-2009-00197 Adopted: 25 March 2011 Published: 07 April 2011 Affiliation: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Abstract

Following an application from HiPP GmbH & Co Vertrieb KG submitted pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of Germany, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to alpha-linolenic acid and contribution to brain and nerve tissue development. Alpha-linolenic acid is considered to be sufficiently characterised. Contribution to brain and nerve tissue development is considered to be a beneficial physiological effect. Alpha-linolenic acid is the parent fatty acid of the longer chain n 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid, which is the major structural lipid in brain tissue and the central nervous system. Deficiency of alpha-linolenic acid results in adverse clinical symptoms including neurological abnormalities and poor growth. The Panel notes that for normal brain and nerve tissue development, alpha-linolenic acid, like other essential nutrients, is needed in adequate amounts. The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and contribution to brain and nerve tissue development. The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, contributes to brain and nerve tissue development.” The target population is infants and children up to three years. © European Food Safety Authority, 2011

© European Food Safety Authority, 2011

Summary

Following an application from HiPP GmbH & Co Vertrieb KG submitted pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of Germany, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to alpha-linolenic acid and contribution to brain and nerve tissue development.

The scope of the application was proposed to fall under a health claim referring to children’s development and health.

The food constituent that is the subject of the health claim is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a well recognised nutrient and is measurable in foods by established methods. The Panel considers that ALA is sufficiently characterised.

The claimed effect is “alpha-linolenic acid is important for brain and nervous tissue development”. The target population as proposed by the applicant is infants and children from birth to three years. The Panel considers that contribution to brain and nerve tissue development is a beneficial physiological effect.

Alpha-linolenic acid is the parent fatty acid of the longer chain n 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is the major structural lipid in brain tissue and the central nervous system. Also the retina contains high concentrations of DHA. Deficiency of ALA results in adverse clinical symptoms including neurological abnormalities and poor growth.

The Panel has already issued a favourable opinion on ALA and linoleic acid (LA) and normal growth and development of children, as well as on ALA and contribution to brain development.

The Panel notes that for normal brain and nerve tissue development, ALA, like other essential nutrients, is needed in adequate amounts.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of ALA and contribution to brain and nerve tissue development.

The Panel considers that the following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, contributes to brain and nerve tissue development.”

The Panel considers that, in order to bear the claim follow-on formulae should comply with the criteria of composition of follow-on formulae as laid down in Directive 2006/141/EC; other foodstuffs intended for infants and young children should contain a minimum of 15 % of the adequate intake of 0.5 E %. Such amounts can be easily consumed as part of a balanced diet. The target population is infants and children up to three years.

Keywords

Alpha-linolenic acid, ALA, infants, children, development, brain, nerve tissue, health claim