Unlike for fiber and soy, no "good source" or "excellent source" claims from the Food and Drug Administration exist for omega-3 fatty acids. Guidance still is out there for food and beverage companies wanting to make certain they include adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids per serving.

Scientific consensus is that people should consume 500 mg to 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day, either in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), said Dr. Chet Rao, sales and marketing manager of functional and nutritional products for Hormel Specialty Foods, Austin, Minn. He said adding 90 to 100 mg of EPA or DHA per serving of a product would be a good idea since that is 20% of 500 mg.

Denomega Nutritional Oils, Boulder, Colo., points to recommendations of 605 mg per day from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL). At least 220 mg should be EPA and 220 mg should be DHA, according to the ISSFAL. According to Denomega Nutritional Oils, adding less than 65 mg per serving will have a negligible effect.

"Research has shown the dietary intake of 400 to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA daily will positively impact consumer’s health," said Damon Dickinson, director of sales for OmegaPure, a branded line of omega-3 fatty acid ingredients from Omega Protein, Houston. "Most functional foods containing omega-3 have 32 mg to 50 mg of EPA and DHA per 100-gram serving."

According to the American Heart Association, Dallas, patients with documented coronary heart disease should consume about 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish. The F.D.A. allows this qualified health claim, "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."