IADSA briefs

Comments on health claims
IADSA has now submitted comment to the Codex Nutrition Committee on its draft recommendations on the scientific basis of health claims.

IADSA's comments particularly emphasise:

  • support for the concept of grading of scientific evidence as a practical and feasible way of reflecting emerging and consensus science
  • concern that the current emphasis on all health claims being based on human intervention studies may not be feasible
  • that the substantiation of health claims should be carried out on a case by case basis and the degree of substantiation and the sources and nature of the supporting evidence should be proportionate to the type of health claim and take into account the totality of the available evidence and the weighing of the evidence.
The draft recommendations will be discussed at the Committee's next meeting, to be held in Germany in November.

For further information, contact the IADSA Secretariat at [email protected]

European Union
Revision of the novel foods regulation
The European Commission has announced that it is shortly to adopt a Regulation revising rules for the assessment, authorisation, labelling and use of novel foods in the European Union (EU).

The aim of the revised Regulation is to encourage innovation in the food sector and facilitate trade, while at the same time maintaining a very high level of food safety. The definition of novel foods will be clarified, taking into account new and emerging technologies which could have an impact on food production. The authorisation system will also become more transparent and efficient, with the European Food Safety Authority being central to the safety assessment of such products.

Additionally, the revised Regulation should mean that traditional foods from third countries wishing to enter the EU market for the first time will encounter a more proportionate assessment and authorisation procedure, which takes into account the safe history of use this food may have in other parts of the world.

'Orientation paper' on nutrient levels published
The European Commission has recently made available to interested parties its 'Orientation Paper on the Setting of Maximum and Minimum Amounts for Vitamins and Minerals in Foodstuffs', which takes into account 58 responses.

The paper does not give specific suggestions for levels, but recognises that:

  • safety levels for micronutrients have been produced by the EVM & the US Institute of Medicine (as well as Scientific Committee for Food/European Food Safety Authority)
  • a number of micronutrients had very high tolerable upper intake levels and may not need to have maximum permitted levels for supplements (MPLs) set for them ? for instance, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic acid
  • it is necessary to look at intake data across Europe probably using the most recent, good quality national surveys.
  • It is necessary to 'share' the potential total intake amongst food, fortified food & supplement sources
  • a 'more cautious' approach could be taken on the vitamins & minerals where the safety margin is low.
Overall, the paper is generally regarded as a balanced document which clearly sets out the views received and the issues that arise - and it suggests some possible options that could enable levels to be set. It will now be discussed at a meeting of the 'Expert Group on food supplements and on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods', that is being held today.

For more information on the Commission documents and responses to them, see: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/supplements/index_en.htm

ECJ advocate general overrules decision on garlic supplements
In the face of Germany's current practice to classify garlic supplements as medicines, the recent European Court of Justice Advocate General's opinion that the intended use of garlic supplements is not indicated or recommended for treating or preventing illnesses, and furthermore, it is not typically presented as a medicinal product, demonstrates support for the important principle of 'intended use' in distinguishing between medicinal products and food supplements.

The European Commission had taken Germany to court because it did not consider garlic supplements to be medicinal products. Instead it considered them as widely available foodstuffs whose sale should not be restricted, and that limitations proposed by the German authorities were a clear-cut example of national overregulation, creating unnecessary burdens for industry.

United Kingdom
FSA revises advice on colours
Research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and carried out by Southampton University has suggested that eating or drinking certain mixes of certain artificial food colours together with the preservative sodium benzoate could have negative effect on children's behaviour. As a result, FSA is advising parents of children showing signs of hyperactivity that cutting these colours from their diets might have a beneficial effect.

The colours in question are Sunset yellow (E110, Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Allura red (E129), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Sodium benzonate (E211).

Initial meetings with the food industry have been held and the report has been forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for consideration. EFSA has since confirmed that the study will be taken into consideration by its AFC Panel on additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food, as part of its current safety review.EFSA has now said that it will prioritise its own review of these colours, and expects to complete its assessment by January 2008, and has asked FSA for further information to enable its Panel to '? assess the implications of the findings and their relevance for drawing definitive conclusions on cause and effect and the possible role of particular colours.'

In the meantime, following a recent open meeting, the FSA Board has expressed its '?astonishment that industry has not moved more quickly to remove these artificial colours from their products, in the light of serious concerns raised by consumers.'

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