Developed by CPUT

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

The Functional Foods Research Unit (FFRU) at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) was established in 2009 with a grant from the CPUT Research and Innovation Fund.

Under the leadership of the FFRU and based on years of extensive research, Omega Caro-E was developed and patented.

“Since solid and voluminous scientific backing for the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids exists, a high level of public awareness and acceptance of omega-3 fatty acids is becoming more apparent. Considering the fact that it is not always possible to consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through the diet, the interest in n-3 fatty acid supplements has soared,” says researchers at the FFRU.

What was the rationale behind developing Omega Caro-E?  National surveys indicated that most South Africans have a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids from their general diet; however the regular intake of oily fish found in cold water containing high levels of omega-3 such as pilchards, sardines and salmon are quite inadequate. Also, not many South Africans have proper access to fruit and vegetables. In fact, the average South African’s daily intake of fruit and vegetables is less than half of that which is recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Testing of various commercially available products on the SA market:

  1. In a study published in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa (2011), the research team from CPUT’s Functional Food Research Unit, Department of  Biotechnology and Consumer Science, in conjunction with the Nutrition Intervention Research Unit of the Medical Research Council, tested 45 commercially-available products on the South African market for their fatty acid composition.


The results showed more than half of these omega-3 supplements contained less than 89% of the claimed content of EPA and/or DHA, as stated on the product labels.

The results of the content vs label claims showed:

Journal reference:
Analysis of omega-3 fatty acid content of South African fish oil supplements, MARETHA OPPERMAN, DE WET MARAIS, AJ SPINNLER BENADE, Cardiovasc J Afr 2011; 22: 324–329;

To download a pdf of the published study, click here

  1. In a follow-up study in 2012, 63 commercially available omega-3 fatty acid supplements were analysed again and the results did show a slight improvement in the accuracy of EPA as well as the DHA levels.


Their concern was, however with the high peroxide levels found in the supplement oils, as they are associated with potential health implications. More than 80% of supplements had peroxide levels higher than the recommended content, as specified by the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED). It was also found that 32% of the supplements tested contained ethyl esters (EE) or a combination of EE and triglycerides.

Their conclusion was that although the results of the 2012 study compared to the 2009 study were more accurate in terms of content versus label claim, high peroxide levels and the presence of ethyl esters were of concern. The ethyl esters were also a concern, as no indication had been given that supplements that contain ethyl esters should not be used by pregnant women.

Journal reference: Analysis of omega-3 fatty acid content of South African fish oil supplements: a follow-up study, MARETHA OPPERMAN, AJ SPINNLER BENADE, Cardiovasc J Afr 2013; 24: 297-302

To download a pdf of the published study, click here