Food Labeling & the ‘Omega 3’ Call Out


You know the guy at the dinner party that can’t wait to claim he’s friends with some celebrity? That desire to associate is natural, especially when it comes to things that are perceived as great. The ‘Omega 3’ claim on food labeling is a valuable one and brands, like the guy at the party, can’t wait to claim association even if the connection turns out to be something more like “Well, I once stood in an elevator with Justin Timberlake’s bodyguard.”

Food labeling is actually a scary place sometimes. Statistically, profits increase on packaged goods that have a call out of measurable protein, for example. So, whether you’re holding a granola bar or a muffin, brands will call out protein on the label and sales will increase like clock work, even if the protein inside is of a poor source or have an incomplete amino acid profile.

But, sales are sales, right?

The same is true with Omega 3. Brands can’t wait to call out Omega 3, because of it’s ubiquitous perceived value. No one perceives Omega 3 as anything but a benefit, which we’d argue is true, too. However, we know that not all Omega 3 fatty acids are the same.

The next time you see a product that claims Omega 3, whether it’s a protein bar, a carton of eggs, or a supplement, make sure it has measurable levels of EPA and DHA. Many products claiming Omega 3 only contain ALA, which are Omega 3 fatty acids, but aren’t converted well into EPA and DHA in the body. In our minds, if it isn’t EPA and DHA it isn’t really Omega 3 worth seeking out.


Logan Gelbrich