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Codex Committee Backs Science-Based Safety Standards for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

- Breaks Eight-Year Stalemate-

BONN, Germany, Nov 4, 2003 -- The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU), after two days of deliberations, affirmed the primacy of science-based standard-setting, striking down subjectively-applied recommended daily allowances (RDAs) and paving the way for the global sale and marketing of dietary supplements based on objective standards that will simultaneously preserve consumer safety and fair trade. Led by the Washington, D.C.-based Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the supplement industry worked for years to bring about the development of compromise language that would satisfy regulators and allow the industry to market safe products to consumers around the world, an effort that ultimately bore fruit this morning.

The dramatic set of decisions broke an eight-year logjam and moved the Standard for Vitamin and Mineral Supplements from Step 3 to the pivotal Step 5 in the Codex Alimentarius Commission's eight-step international food standard-setting process.

Codex, which was established by the United Nations' (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) in 1962, was designated as the principal arbitral mechanism for resolving food trade disputes, with the advent of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994.

CRN officials and Board members expressed satisfaction at the outcome, calling it a victory for consumers. "Today's result is a vindication of the efforts of so many who have worked to preserve scientific integrity as the cornerstone of the international standard-setting process," said CRN's John Hathcock, Ph.D., vice president, scientific & international affairs.

CRN's International Trade and Market Development Committee chairman and CRN Board member, Mark A. Le Doux, observed that the result "bore witness to the fact that committed regulators from a variety of countries, working with industry and consumers in a spirit of goodwill, can achieve the seemingly impossible."

Mr. Le Doux added that "today's decision represents the single most important development in the ongoing effort to open the world's markets to safe, healthy products that have the potential to enhance the quality of life for billions around the globe."

Both men singled out for particular praise the U.S. and European Commission delegations for their leadership and willingness to compromise at key junctures in the negotiations. Mr. Le Doux noted that "this meeting provides an excellent example of what can happen when the United States and the European Union work in concert for the common good."

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices.

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