In Brief

Parting shot at DSHEA
Outgoing Department of Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson has taken a parting shot at the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act. In his resignation speech he stated: ?I really think Congress should take a look at the food supplement law again. It doesn?t make any sense to me. You require pharmaceutical companies to prove the safety of their drugs before they get FDA approval, but at the same time, food supplements, we have to prove as unsafe in order to remove them from the market ? It?s a very long process; we have to prove that they are unsafe. That, to me, is a burden of proof that FDA should not be required to do.?

Danes OK glucosamine use
A Danish Medicines Agency (DMA) investigation has concluded glucosamine is safe for consumption, although it has called for further research into links between its consumption and increased cholesterol levels. It also found glucosamine does not cause blood clots. The enquiry was spurred by six patients using glucosamine who reported high cholesterol and three had blood clots. The DMA and the Licensing Committee met in January to decide whether the summary of product characteristics and terms of use for glucosamine should be changed. Further study was required to determine ?the extent to which cholesterol level and other fats are affected in patients treated with glucosamine,? the DMA stated.

Japan studies nutrients
A group has formed in Japan to establish an assessment methodology for food immunology in order to promote consumer health. Headed by Dr Suichi Kaminogawa at Nihon University, The Japan Food Immunology Study Group will focus on vitamins, minerals and lactobacilli initially. It has the support of Japan?s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, as well as 56 companies, mainly large food producers, and more than 100 scientists and professors.

Swedish health claims
Unilever?s cholesterol-lowering Becel Pro.activ milk drink has become the fifth product to earn a product-specific health claim under Sweden?s health claims system. The company?s Pro.activ margarine, containing plant sterols, has already been granted a claim. Another cholesterol-lowering product, Hj?rtans Lust cheese made by Skane dairy, has also gained a health claim under the Swedish code. It contains pressed rapeseed oil instead of milk fat.

Sweet news for sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners will lead the growth in the food additives market, concludes a new report by market analysts Freedonia. The market is expected to grow 8.3 per cent per year in the US until 2008. Sales will rise from $81 million in 1998 to $189 million in 2008, Freedonia reports. New high-intensity sweeteners, such as sugar derivative sucralose, are driving this growth. Sucralose is permitted in 40 countries, but only recently was accepted on the EU market through an amendment to the 1994 EU Sweeteners Directive last February. Other low-calorie sweeteners currently used in the US include neotame (not available in the EU) and saccharin.

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