Following an application from DSM Nutritional Products, submitted for authorisation of a health claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, via the Competent Authority of the United Kingdom, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and contribution to normal brain development.
The scope of the application was proposed to fall under a health claim referring to children’s development and health.
The food that is the subject of the health claim is DHA (22:6 n-3), which is a well-characterised n-3 long-chain fatty acid that can be quantified in foods by established methods. This evaluation applies to all sources of DHA in the specified amounts. The Panel considers that DHA is sufficiently characterised.
The claimed effect proposed by the applicant is “contributes to brain development”. The target population proposed by the applicant is infants and children up to 18 years of age. The Panel considers that contribution to normal brain development is a beneficial physiological effect for infants and children.
The Panel has already assessed a claim on DHA and maintenance of normal brain function with a favourable outcome. The target population was the general population. The Panel considered that DHA is the major structural lipid in brain tissue and the central nervous system, and that the membrane lipids of brain grey matter and the retina contain high concentrations of DHA. The Panel noted the well-established role of DHA in brain function.
The Panel considers that the role of DHA in normal brain function applies to all ages, including brain development in infants and children. The Panel also notes that the developing brain accumulates large amounts of DHA, particularly during the first two years of life, but also later and throughout childhood. Dietary Reference Values for pre-formed DHA have been set for infants and children.
The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of DHA and contribution to normal brain development.
The Panel considers that the following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “DHA contributes to normal brain development”.
In order to bear the claim, foods for older infants (> 6 months of age) and young children below the age of 24 months should provide a daily intake of 100 mg DHA in one or more servings. Foods for children from 2 to 18 years should provide a daily intake of 250 mg DHA in one or more servings.