Food allergy report increases label concerns
A recent report from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that about 4% of all US children and teenagers under 18 in 2007 had had a food or digestive allergy in the previous l2 months. The data showed that the cause of 90% of food allergies is milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
The Food and Drug Administration is concerned that advisory labeling of allergens in foods which is not uniform throughout the US, may not be sufficiently protecting the health of allergic consumers, and is currently working on a plan to ensure that manufacturers use allergen advisory labeling that? is '..truthful and not misleading, conveys a clear and uniform message, and adequately informs food-allergic consumers and their caregivers'.
Source: UNPA (United Natural Products Alliance); [email protected]
EFSA opinions on health claims update
Further to last month's Newsflash, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a further series of opinions on Article 14/13.5 health claims (Reduction of Disease Risk/children's claims and claims based on new scientific evidence) applications under the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation.
Three EFSA claims opinions for calcium, vitamin D and bone health in children, an area where there is general scientific consensus on the value of the substantiating data, were favourable. However, for 4 claims dossiers relating to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and children issues were raised by EFSA, primarily since a cause-effect relationship could not be established.
A claim for animal protein and bone growth in children was in principle evaluated by EFSA as favourable, since EFSA concluded that a cause and effect relationship had been established between total protein intake and normal growth and development of bone in children. However, the opinion pointed out that adequate intakes of protein can be obtained from various sources, including animal origin and no evidence of inadequate intakes of protein in European children had been submitted.
Issues were raised for a disease-risk reduction claims dossier on a milk drink with lactobacillus bacteria, primarily because EFSA took a very strict view of the relevance of the intervention studies cited in support of the claim. Most recently, EFSA also raised issues for a claim linking probiotic consumption and gastro-intestinal health on the grounds that '...the evidence provided is insufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption (of the mixture) and the reduction of abdominal discomfort'.
However, in relation to disease risk reduction claims, a further favourable EFSA opinion was issued on a claims dossier for plant stanols and cholesterol lowering, and a dossier on xylitol chewing gum/pastilles and the reduction of the risk of tooth decay.
Up to end November EFSA has issued a total of 25 health claims dossier opinions, of which 6 with a clear favourable outcome, and two a favourable outcome, but some side-remarks related to dietary intakes.
FSA advises removal of colours from foods
Following a study carried out by Southampton University, the FSA had agreed to advise Ministers that there should be voluntary action by UK manufacturers to remove six food colourings thought to cause hyperactivity in children from food by 2009. The colours in question are:? Tartrazine (E102), Quinolene Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura Red (E129).
The preservative Sodium benzoate (E111), also examined in the Southampton study, has been excluded from the proposed phase-out, on the grounds that it has a bona fide use as a preservative, whereas? the colours are used for cosmetic effect.
EFSA is also reviewing the safety of these colours as part of its review of the safety data of all food additives, with a 'fast-track' target date for completion of mid 2009.
Source: CRN (Council for Responsible Nutrition); [email protected]
CODEX finalizes the risk analysis, health claim and nutrient text for final adoption
Two particularly important texts, on Nutrient Risk Analysis Principles and on Recommendations on the Scientific Basis of Health Claims were finalized at the recent Codex Nutrition Committee meeting in South Africa.
The Nutrient Risk Analysis Principles:? the Principles, as agreed by the Committee, specify that the FAO/WHO nutrient risk assessment report, which shares the principles included in the IADSA published model for safety assessment, is the internationally accepted approach for the safety evaluation of nutrients. These principles are critically important for the setting of product maximum levels based on risk assessment. This document is therefore an excellent basis for the potential future application of the risk assessment method by the Codex Nutrition Committee and for the development of an internationally accepted table of maximum levels.
The Scientific Substantiation of Health Claims:? the initial guidelines drafted by the French authorities have been amended by the Committee to incorporate the IADSA and EHPM comments and the revised text includes the following breakthroughs:
- The word "clinical," in the context of human intervention studies is removed from the agreed text.
- The text gives more weight to observational and epidemiological studies, clearly indicating that they contribute to the totality of the evidence.
- The use of authoritative statements as permissible evidence for claim substantiation is now included in the text.
Both of the above texts are now fast-tracked for final adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Codex decision-making body at its next meeting in July 2009.
Important outcomes of other texts discussed at the Codex Nutrition Committee meeting included:
- Dietary Fibre: The Committee amended the table of conditions for nutrient contents and the definition of dietary fibre, and agreed to forward them to the Codex Alimentarius Commission for final adoption. The amended definition takes into account that three main categories of carbohydrate polymers are distinguished, refers now to monomeric units rather than to degree of polymerisation and states that the decision to include carbohydrates with monomeric units from 3 to 9 should be left to national authorities. In addition, the Committee agreed to establish an electronic working group to review and update the list of recommended methods for consideration next year.
- Nutrition Reference Values (NRVs):? The Committee agreed to return the text at Step 2/3 for re-drafting by the electronic working group, taking into account some of the agreements made such as to base NRVs on individual nutrient levels (INL). In cases where there is an absence of an established INL for a nutrient for a specific sub-group, it may be appropriate to consider the use of other reference values or ranges that have been established by authoritative scientific bodies. However, no agreement was reached on how general population NRVs should be determined, and consideration will be given over two proposed approaches.
- Fortification:? Canada presented its revised proposal to amend the general principles to address "discretional fortification", by limiting it through the setting of maximum levels of vitamins and minerals, and also the indirect addition of essential nutrients to foods. While New Zealand supported the Canadian proposal, the European Union did not support work on the indirect addition and the United States was opposed to the entire Canadian proposal. The Committee agreed to establish an electronic working group led by Canada to re-draft the discussion paper for its consideration next year by the Committee.
Asian standard for ginseng products for final adoption
The Codex Committee for Asia finalised at its last meeting in November the Asian Standard for Ginseng Products, which will be then considered for final adoption as a regional standard for Asia by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Codex decision-making body, at its next meeting in July next year.
It could be expected that it is requested during the next Codex Commission meeting to convert it into an international standard. However, it is understood that many countries in other regions would oppose to it. For further information, contact the IADSA Secretariat at [email protected]
Basis of EFSA decision on lycopene disputed by Japanese
In their comments to the World Tomato Processing Council on the Average Daily Intake (ADI) of Lycopene set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January of this year, the Japanese Tomato Processors Council has questioned the basis of EFSA's proposal, as follows:
- EFSA's proposal of 0.5 mg.kg b.w./day includes all lycopene sources — not only synthetic and B.trispora derived, but also tomato derived lycopenes.
- However, the scientific reports used in EFSA's evaluation concern studies of synthetic and B.trispora derived lycopenes.
Responses from the WPTC and EFSA are now awaited.
Source: NNFA (National Nutritional Foods Association); [email protected]