Camelina Oil

Novel Food Information - Camelina Oil

Health Canada notified Canpressco Products Inc., Midale, Saskatchewan, in January 2010, that it takes no objection to the use of cold-pressed camelina oil as a food ingredient. The Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of camelina oil according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. These Guidelines are based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of foods with novel traits.


The following provides a summary of the notification from Canpressco Products Inc. and the evaluation by Health Canada, and contains no confidential business information.

1. Introduction

Camelina oil is the oil that is extracted from the Camelina sativa oilseed. Camelina sativa is an ancient oilseed crop that is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is native to Northern Europe and Central Asia. Camelina was grown and consumed in Europe until the 1940s when higher yielding crops became more available. Currently, it is cultivated in Canada, the United States, Slovenia, and Italy. However, there are only a small number of acres being grown worldwide.

Camelina oil can be used as a cooking oil, in salad dressings, and in spreads and margarines. While it is able to withstand frying temperatures, is it not recommended that camelina oil be heated for prolonged periods of time. The oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fats, as well as vitamin E. Thus, it is ideal for salad and margarine oils.

2. Nutrition

Camelina oil is largely unsaturated (> 90%) and it is high in omega-3 and omega-6. The total amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the oil is approximately 39% (with 38% alpha-linolenic acid). The total amount of omega-6 fatty acids in camelina oil is approximately 18% (with 17% linoleic acid). The levels of erucic acid in camelina oil are below the maximum level (5%) of erucic acid permitted in cooking oils, salad oils, margarines, and shortening or foods that resemble margarine or shortening, as per B.09.022 of the Food and Drug Regulations. Other fats are listed below:

Table 1: Fatty acid profile of camelina oil
Fat (as percent total fat) Camelina oil
Saturated fat 7.9
Monounsaturated Fat
  • Oleic acid
  • Eicosenioc acid

Polyunsaturated Fat
  • Linoleic acid
  • Alpha-linolenic acid


3. Dietary exposure

Dietary intakes were estimated to determine the potential exposure of camelina oil to the Canadian population. It was estimated that edible oils (margarines, spreads, and salad oils) would be supplemented with camelina oil at a level of approximately 5%. For example, palm oil could contain 5% camelina oil. At this level, the exposure to camelina oil in Canada would be low, less than 1 gram per person per day.

4. Toxicological assessment

The cold-pressing method used to produce camelina oil results in a small amount of protein remaining in the final product (< 300 mg protein/100 g oil). Because camelina is related to mustard, a known food allergen, it suggests the possibility that consumption of camelina oil may evoke an allergic reaction in persons with an allergy to mustard. There are no documented cases of an allergic reaction associated with the consumption of camelina oil. The petitioner has been notified that they should contact Health Canada if any cases are brought to their attention.

Camelina seeds contain trypsin inhibitors, which can alter trypsin activity which is required for the digestion of proteins. However, the potential contribution of trypsin inhibitors by camelina oil to the diet would be an insignificant amount since the oil contains only a small amount of protein. Thus, evidence provided by the petitioner supports the position that the hazard posed by trypsin inhibitors is small.

Camelina seeds also contain glucosinolates, which are toxic compounds found in Brassica plants that can be converted into isothiocyanates and other compounds which can affect thyroid function. Based on evidence provided by the petitioner that the oil contains only a small amount of protein, the hazard posed by glucosinolates in camelina oil is negligible.

The toxicological evaluation concluded that there are no toxicological issues with camelina oil according to the evidence provided.

5. Chemical assessment

It is not expected that there will be chemical residues in camelina oil as a result of the cold-pressing method. Results from chemical analyses (heavy metals, peroxide value) that were submitted for camelina oil were acceptable. While the iodine value was not reported, it is considered a quality rather than safety parameter. All data provided were adequate to demonstrate that the final product is safe and raises no safety concerns.

6. Microbiology

Microbiological specifications were not required, because the physico-chemical properties of vegetable oils, in general, do not support the growth of microflora.

7. Labelling

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) share responsibilities in regard to labelling requirements for foods. Health Canada is responsible for policy and standard setting under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, whereas CFIA is responsible for enforcement. CFIA also administers and enforces those aspects of the Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act that ensure labelling is understandable, truthful and not misleading.

Camelina oil when added to foods (salad dressing, margarine) as an ingredient would be part of the fat declaration in the Nutrition Facts table. It will be listed as camelina oil in the ingredient list. Canpressco has been notified to consult with the CFIA to resolve common name and labelling issues of food products containing camelina oil. They have also been notified to contact the CFIA's Feed Division for further information on how to obtain authorization for the use of camelina oil by-products as livestock feed.


Health Canada's review of the information presented in support of the use of camelina oil as a food concluded that there are no food safety concerns. Health Canada takes no objection to the use of cold-pressed camelina oil as a food ingredient. It should be noted that camelina oil is not permitted to be added to a food for which a standard exists in the Food and Drug Regulations, unless the standard provides for the addition of vegetable oil. It is the continuing responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that its product is in compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

This Novel Food Information document has been prepared to summarize the opinion regarding the subject product provided by the Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada. This opinion is based upon the comprehensive review of information submitted by the petitioner according to the Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods.

(Également disponible en français)

For further information, please contact:

Office of Food Biotechnology
Food Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2

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