IADSA rates global regulatory improvements 'six out of ten' in 2006
The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) applauded regulatory improvements over the last year, but added that much work is still needed in some regions where current restrictions are still in place, and possible future constraints lurk in the pipelines.
"In terms of improved regulations that prevent barriers to trade, 2006 was a good year," said David Pineda, IADSA's Manager of Regulatory Affairs. "One of our main targets is to ensure food supplements are widely available, and last year a major achievement was IADSA's work at Codex to prevent the deletion of four additives in food supplements. Through co-operation with governments and other national organisations we have seen action get underway in countries as diverse as India, Turkey and Argentina, but there are still substantial and potential barriers to trade in some parts of the world that we would like to see removed."
Positive regulatory developments last year included South Africa's decision to create a draft law for complementary medicines and food supplements and ASEAN discussions on the harmonisation of food supplements.
Pineda said: "Unjustified restrictions continue on the sale of supplements in many parts of the world, but overall it would appear that legislation is moving in the right direction. IADSA will continue to work both at Codex level and with our national associations towards preventing potential restrictions and dismantling existing barriers by sharing information on regulatory models worldwide with governments, national associations and the scientific community."
Codex seeks views on dietary fibre
Codex has for some time been working on Provisions on Dietary Fibre. In parallel, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also started work on this issue and has proposed a definition of dietary fibre which was agreed by a FAO/WHO Expert Group which met last year and has since been presented to the Codex Nutrition Committee.
The present difficulty is that currently the Codex and the WHO proposed definitions differ from each other and, as result, the Codex Nutrition Committee has been unable to reach consensus on how to proceed. Now, Codex has written to Codex member governments and observers to seek comment prior to the next meeting on this issue.
FSA consults on claims and fortification regulations
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued public consultation documents on the implementation of the European Regulations on nutrition and health claims made on foods, and the addition of vitamins and minerals and certain other substances to foods. Draft FSA guidance on compliance with both regulations has also been issued, also with request for comment.
Stakeholder meetings are to be held in early May, prior to the close of the consultation period.
Folic acid dropped from healthy heart list
The American Health Association has dropped folic acid from its 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Womenon the grounds that recent studies have not demonstrated the efficacy of folic acid in protecting the heart.
Dietary supplement trade associations have disputed this decision, pointing the body of positive evidence ? in particular the recent review published in the British Medical Journalwhich concluded that sufficient evidence in support of folic acid's beneficial role in heart health existed for the vitamin to be actively recommended.
Supplement regulations to be updated
At the time when supplements were regulated in New Zealand by the 1985 Dietary Supplement Regulations most product was in tablet or capsule form.
Since that time new product types have been developed — bars, beverages, etc. — often known as functional or fortified foods. However, to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) such products are 'food-type dietary supplements' or 'complementary foods' and are seen as falling outside the scope of both the current Dietary Supplement Regulations and those for conventional foods.
This potential regulatory 'gap' has given rise to concerns about the implications for consumer safety, and as a result New Zealand is now proposing to update its Dietary Supplement Regulations to take into Account these new food product presentations.
There is currently a consultation paper available at http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consultation/dietary-supplements/index.htm