IADSA Global Dispatches

Decision on Upper Intake Levels for Soy Isoflavones
Last month the Food Safety Commission of Japan's Cabinet's Office finally decided that the daily upper intake limit of soy isoflavones (aglicones) in the daily diet is 70 — 75 mg and intake from Foods for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) should be 30 mg (total: not more than 100 — 105 mg/day).

The Japan Health Food and Nutrition Food Association (JHNFA) has constantly lobbied against this unusually low amount for FOSHU and hence for dietary supplements. One hundred and seven public comments were also sent in, but were not successful in causing the commission to change its mind. However, it has said that any new data will be evaluated.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Food Safety Commission have both compiled a Question/Answer Manual on the issue and have posted it on their websites.

Cholesterol-Lowering Plant Stanols
While spreads and dairy foods fortified with plant sterols have been quite widely available in Europe for some time now, a recent communication from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) may extend their use to other categories of product, including dietary supplements.

FSA has recently confirmed that some supplements containing free plant sterols were available in the European Union prior to January 1997, and are therefore not considered as 'novel foods' under the terms of the Novel Foods Regulations.

Saw Palmetto: Hormone Concerns
The Danish Ministry for Family and Consumer Affairs has now confirmed that the withdrawal of food supplements containing saw palmetto resulted from concerns about its effect on the hormone system, coupled with a lack of data about its safety in long-term use.

Comission Pursues Spain on Herbals
The European Commission has received a number of complaints from companies wishing to market in Spain products that contain herbal ingredients and are legally marketed and/or manufactured as food supplements.

Because the Spanish authorities treat herbal products as medicines, they require such products to be withdrawn from the market and to obtain medicinal marketing authorisations. However, the commission considers that the absence of adequate procedures for assessing the risk to public health that such products allegedly pose represents an unjustified barrier to trade.

The commission is therefore continuing infringement procedures against Spain for hampering the free movement of goods in the market.

United Kingdom
FSA Survey High-Dose Supplements
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), via a major UK market research company, is carrying out a survey on the availability of high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements. High-dose products are defined as those with a daily dose at or above that recommended by the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals.

The objective of the exercise is to provide a list of all high-dose vitamin and mineral products, to determine their market value and to assess the usage by manufacturers of the industry/FSA-agreed advisory statements about possible adverse reactions that such products should carry on their labels.

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