IADSA Global Dispatches


Safety warning on soy intake
The Technical Investigation Committee of the Food Safety Council (Cabinet Office) has presented a draft report warning about potential adverse effects of over-consumption of soy isoflavones. The Committee stated that, because of the effect isoflavones have on the balance of hormones, the upper limit of daily supplementary (i.e., additional to the daily diet) intake should be 30 mg. The maximum level of intake from the daily diet in Japan is set at 70 to 75 mg, and 95 per cent of the population take soy isoflavones below 70 mg/day. The Committee advises against supplementary intake for pregnant women and infants.

The Japan Health Food & Nutrition Food Association (JHNFA) has submitted an opinion paper to the Food Safety Council saying that the data on which the Technical Investigation Committee based its conclusion are questionable and that the report may hinder the correct usage of dietary supplements and brings about unfavourable effects.


Survey of eating habits includes supplements
AFSSA, the French Food Safety Authority, is carrying out a study on national eating habits that includes, for the first time, data on functional food and supplement consumption.

The study will encompass data from 5,500 adults and children, and has three separate phases designed to take account of seasonal eating choices. The data will provide AFSSA with information on consumption levels of particular nutrients and on potentially toxic ingredients found in food.

Taken in conjunction with data from a study carried out in 1998/9, the new study, due for completion in November 2006, will enable AFFSA to measure how the French diet has evolved during this period.

United Kingdom

Agency to assess market for high dose supplements and use of advisory statements
Against a background where the European Commission is expected to bring forward discussion papers on the setting of maximum levels of vitamin and mineral substances in food supplements this year, the Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been discussing options for a UK strategy on maximum permitted levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. It has called for a survey to determine what high-dose products are available in the UK.

In 2003, a report by the UK?s Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) had recommended maximum advisable levels of intake, and since at time of publication a number of products on the UK market exceeded those levels, voluntary agreement was reached with UK trade associations that certain higher-dose products would carry advisory statements concerning possible adverse effects. A survey was also proposed to check the adoption of such statements on relevant products.

Now FSA plans to combine the two surveys to assess both the market for high-dose supplements in the UK and the use of voluntary advisory statements on high-dose products. The survey is expected to be carried out this spring.


Site licensing and import problems
From 1 January of this year, companies involved in the manufacturing, packaging, labelling and importing of natural health products have been required to have a valid Site Licence, issued by the Natural Health Products Directorate — and importers are also required to list the foreign sites from which they import on an Annex to the Site Licence.

However, the process of licence issue has not gone as quickly or smoothly as had been envisaged. Some companies have yet to obtain their Site Licence, which has resulted in a small number of shipments of natural health products being refused entry into Canada.

The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is now advising that to obtain their Site License, all importers must ensure that they:

  1. List all off-shore manufacturing, packaging and labelling sites from which product is obtained
  2. Attest that all sites from which products are sourced meet Canadian Good Manufacturing Practices for Natural Health Products or their equivalent
  3. Attest that they can access and provide copies of all necessary records.
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