Codex Alimentarius Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) to meet
This article originally appeared in World Food Regulation Review.
Codex Alimentarius Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) to meet end November in Berlin (Germany) to complete the discussion on follow-up formulas (FUF), ready-to-use foods for nutritionally deprived people (RUTF), decide on the development of science-based Codex Nutrition Profiling System(s), possible new work on Codex guidelines on Probiotics, adoption of a biofortification definition, expected postponement on EPA/DHA with key scientific controversy and to discuss conditions for a “free from fatty acids” claim and new item on “bodybuilding foods”
The 40th session of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Used (CCNFSDU40, Berlin, Germany; 26-30 November 2018) has a heavy agenda again to cover this year. This
Towards a final revision of the current Codex Standard on Follow Up Formula
CCNFSDU40 is expected to complete the revision of the compositional requirements of the Codex standard on follow-up formulas (FUF) intended for older infants (6 to12 month-old) and young children (12 to 36 month-old). It is expected that the discussions within CCNFSDU40 will be tough with regard to outstanding matters, especially the sections on the scope and
Early life nutrition food makers will focus on
Technical discussions will focus on available criteria for carbohydrates, proteins, lauric and
Of course, CCNFSDU40 is not expected to go that far as the decision-making process should be based on
Possible new work on Nutrient Reference Values Recommended (NRV-R) for
CCNFSDU40 will consider seven recommendations from an intersession electronic working group on Nutrient Reference Values Recommended (NRV-R) which primarily concludes that new initiatives should be taken with regard
(ii) NRV-R for young children, (iii) all age references in existing relevant Codex texts to be aligned to define older infants and young children in the same way as the Codex FUF standard (see above); (iv) NRVs-R to be established in those Codex texts (e.g. Canned baby foods; Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, etc.); (v) NRV-Rs for vitamins and minerals based on criteria included in vitamin and mineral supplements and formulated complementary foods for older infants and young children; (vi) NRVs will be introduced in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling; (vii) NRVs to be used also for nutrients subject to permitted nutrition and health claims in national and/or regional jurisdictions in food products intended for older infants and young children.
It is to be seen how the above recommendations may interact and/or interfere with those discussions to be held first on the composition and
WFRR readers may recall the two articles published last year on this topic. The content of such international guidelines aims at providing a very solid and detailed basis for guiding countries and international organisations to define essential
It is critical for CCNFSDU40 to spend enough time to discuss the revised draft guidelines, which have been further elaborated since last year by an international electronic working group (EWG). It is worth noting that the recommendations coming out from the EWG will not serve as the basis for CCNFSDU40 decisions. There will be a physical working group in person (PWG), to be held on the whole Saturday immediately before the CCNFSDU40 session, which may provide the plenary committee with different recommendations. The report of that PWG and its recommendations on amending the draft guidelines will serve as the basis for the CCNFSDU40 plenary decisions. This is not ideal for those delegations attending only the plenary, but this is inherent to any PWG held immediately prior to Codex Committees. The document from the EWG contains 22 recommendations to amend the draft revised guidelines and the physical working group may be able to pre-digest
Let’s hope in that regard that the yet-to-be-appointed new expected co-chairpersons of the CCNFSDU40 will keep a very tight control over the discussion on the FUF standard – and possibly limit that one to a known-in-advance time count – so that the CCNFSDU40 could make significant
New Work on Nutrition Profiles: a “should-I-stay-or-should-I-go” dilemma?
As you may recall, last year CCFSDU39 was not able to discuss in detail this important (some say fundamental) proposal for new work on Nutrition Profiles due to a lack of time. So, the discussion paper has been further worked out by Costa Rica and Paraguay to define a path forward for CCNFSDU to develop Codex guidelines on Nutrition Profiles within the next 4 to 6 years.
It seems that the ambition for this year is more limited: to provide general guidance (to countries and
The announced official objectives are:
Developmentof standardized general guidelines for establishing nutrient profiles for use in front-of-pack labellingsystems, nutrition education programs and the food industry, in order to encourage the development of healthier foods and diets for consumers, based on solid scientific evidence;
- Revision of the Codex Alimentarius
Guide- lineson Nutrition Labelling (CXG 2-1985, 2017 version), for the purpose of developing additional guidelines and facilitating the use of nutrient profiles, taking into account previous work undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) in this area.
The discussion paper authors suggest that this should be done
The discussion paper authors suggest starting with asking governments,
Country/ Region of application
Implemented/ or proposed
Voluntary or mandatory
Who developed the profile? (government, industry, other)
What critical nutrients does it include?
Is it based on
Nutrients that were considered/in-
Foods that are considered important to the diet of your country
Tools used to develop the nutrient
“1. Does your country/ organization believe that the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling
2. If the answer to question 1 is NO, which text, paragraph or section of the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling do you feel should be adjusted to address this issue? [Indicate text/ paragraph/ section]
3. Has your country/ organization developed a nutrient profile? Mark with an X. Yes__ (proceed to question 4) No__ (to the end of the questionnaire)
4. What are the general features of the profile that has been developed?
[See Table 1, above]
5. What were the criteria used to develop your nutrient profile? Please justify your answer.
[See Table 2, above]
6. How will your nutrient profile be used?
7. Has the nutrient profile been validated? Yes/ No Justification (Please give details on the validation process).
8. What benefits, difficulties and limitations have been observed in using the nutrient profiles that you have developed and implemented?
9. Do you have statistical data on how your nutrient profile system has impacted the consumer?
10. How often is your nutrient profile evaluated?”
If this is what it is all about, then it will be just a way for countries having already such nutrient
Probiotics in foods or as food supplements: possible new work on Codex guidelines
This topic on probiotics in foods or as food supplements was already discussed last year. Argen- tina has now worked out a much more advanced and substantiated discussion paper for CCNFSDU40 consideration. It includes thorough explanations of the worldwide growing use of probiotics bacteria added either to foods or sold as food supplements.
The purpose of the proposed new work is to “address the current lack of harmonization which leads to issues and concerns for the regulators, the probiotics industry, and even consumers, with regard to quality, safety and labelling of ‘probiotics’ through the development of a standard or guidelines for probiotics and food with probiotics in order to harmonize framework that includes essential requirements for ‘probiotics’.”
But in practice, the discussion paper goes much beyond establishing a Codex definition of the term “probiotics”, and even suggests already a draft text for future Codex Guidelines on how Probiotics could be defined and even evaluated by national authorities. With regard to the definition, the proposed scope is sufficiently broad to cover vegetative microorganisms, spores, inactivated microorganisms, etc., also providing for some exclusions such as non-alive microorganisms, other microbial-based nonviable products.
The second objective is to develop internationally agreed requirements for the evaluation of a “probiotic” as a food ingredient, e.g. taxonomic characterization of the microorganism; characterization of the strain; demonstration of functional properties of the strain, safety of the microorganism for the intended use (through in vivo and in vitro tests; gut translocation of bacteria).
The guidelines would go also one step further in establishing “requirements for the evaluation of a ‘food with probiotics’” or at least criteria to cover at national level such as the amount of probiotic microorganisms; the proven living nature of the microorganism at the time of the food consumption, and, most controversially a demonstration of physiological and/or nutritional benefits of the food at
Furthermore, the guidelines would contain a few other recommendations in terms of hygiene, contaminants,
It is expected that this new proposal is going to raise a lot of questions which CCNFSDU40 may not be able to address at the forthcoming meeting, given the complexity of some issues included. Most likely CCNFSDU40 will discuss how narrowing down the scope of the proposed new work first (e.g. start with a definition, and then discuss either a standard or guidelines but not a mix of the two). The most controversial issue will probably be the related health claims demonstration. Should CCNFSDU40 be convinced of the need to start this new work, it is expected to be supported by an inter-session electronic working group to discuss a draft text. It will be interesting to see which
Food additives in baby foods – define a process to decide how and who defines the technological needs and CCNFSDU-CCFA interactions
CCNFSDU40 is to discuss the respective roles of CCNFSDU and CCFA. A modernized w
For that purpose, CCNFSDU40 will consider a revised discussion paper (at the time of writing this discussion paper is still under preparation by the European Union (EU)). One may reasonably expect the discussion to float around a possible
permitted food additives in baby foods for very early life risk assessment by the Joint Expert Committee for Food Additives (JECFA) (first 16 weeks of age), as per current work in the EU and recent data calls issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the same issues.
The discussion paper will probably discuss how the current decision-making process already established in the various sections of the CAC procedural manual may be amended, complemented or even substituted by the result of the proposed framework. Beyond the issue of the respective roles of CCNFSDU and CCFA, the discussion may also include the need to proceed to a full re-evaluation of the already permitted substance and a thorough update of their specifications, when the food additive in question was not evaluated recently enough by JECFA or where new emerging science would warrant such a thorough risk assessment, with therefore possible impact on all the other uses of the substance in foods. Next month, a WFRR article will describe the outcome of those discussions in detail.
Conditions of Use of claim on “Free of Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs)”
CCNFSDU40 is expected to discuss the same conditions of use which were reviewed last year. This year, the discussion will be more technical and around the following main issues:
n Whether the proposed criterion can be adequately measured with precision with the three methods of analysis suggested; and
Some countries suggest performing simulations with various foods (especially vegetable oils and fats) to evaluate whether such foods containing essential fats and nutritionally interesting
It may be argued that CCNFSDU40 should first request more scientific inputs from the newly activated FAO/WHO Joint Expert Meeting on Nutrition (JEMNU), a group of experts in nutritional risk assessment, before rushing through any conclusion of this matter.
Definition and associated criteria of “Biofortification”
CCNFSDU40 is expected to complete its work this year at defining the concept of “biofortification”. The definition has been further worked out by an international electronic working group since last year CCNFSDU39. The revised definition coming out from this intersession work reads as follows:
“Biofortification1 is any process2 other than
1 Some Member governments may prefer to use the equivalent term.
3 Conventional addition to food is covered by the General principles for the addition of essential nutrients to foods (CXG 9-1987).
5 e.g. animal, plant, fungi, yeasts, bacteria
6 Nutritional purpose:
- preventing/reducing the risk of, or correcting, a demonstrated deficiency in the population;
- reducing the risk of, or correcting, inadequate nutritional status or intakes in the population;
- meeting requirements and/or recommended
- maintaining or improving health; and/or
- maintaining or improving the nutritional quality of food.”
It is worth noting that the concept of “fortification” itself – i.e. foods fortified with minerals, vitamins or other biologically useful substances – is no longer of use in the full Codex Alimentarius, that is to
During last year CCNFSDU39, some countries voiced up to change the term “biofortification”
It seems that the EWG does not recommend any change to the term “biofortification”. Equally, the EWG is not making any concrete suggestion with regard to what CCNFSDU and CCFL may do next with that definition, or where it should be added (although it is suggested to make it simple and add it to the CAC Procedural Manual in the “definitions” section). The EWG also further recommends to the CCNFSDU40 to work with the CCFL to draw lines between “biofortified foods” and “non-biofortified foods” (i.e. conventional foods?).
NRV-NCD on EPA/DHA – Long way to go, rather towards
CCNFSDU40 is invited to consider four recommendations coming out from an intersession electronic working group. Indeed, due to lack of consensus at the last CCNFSDU39 (2017), this electronic working group was to review again scientific
Therefore, CCNFSDU40 has been asked to postpone any discussion on establishing
The EWG also recommends CCNFSDU40 (i) to stick to the grading of scientific
(ii) to start a discussion on the criteria which define the set of scientific
Another way of approaching that issue would be for CCNFSDU40 to send this spiny and spicy scientific matter to the newly established permanent Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Nutritional risk assessment; named JEMNU. Indeed, according to Codex general procedures, when a Codex Committee is facing a risk assessment/scientific issue, it should ask the established risk assessment body attached to that committee (i.e. JEMNU is that risk assessment body for CCNFSDU). It could allow experts appointed in the JEMNU from a roster of experts publicly available on FAO and WHO websites, through a fully transparent nomination process, to offer a dialogue with those experts working for the WHO-NUGAG. As this is simply a scientific controversy, it should be first debated among scientists, before it comes back to nutritional risk managers in the CCNFSDU.
Proposal for new work on General Requirements For Protein Supplements Intended for “Bodybuilding”
CCNFSDU40 will consider under other business (last item on its agenda) a proposal put
Those foods are generally sold as food supplements to increase lean body mass, muscle size and improve athletic performance for people practicing intensive sports. They are also used to simultaneously decrease the percentage body fat so as to create better muscle definition or allow faster recuperation after intensive work-out. Products targeted are high protein drinks (e.g. whey protein powders), branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, arginine, essential fatty acids, creatine, -hydroxy -
Although the discussion paper refers to generic international Guidelines on general requirements for supplements intended for bodybuilding, the proposed structure of the “Guidelines” would refer clearly to a Codex Commodity/Food Standard (i.e. Purpose, Scope, Definitions, Essential Composition, General requirements for products of
For access to all detailed documents of the forthcoming CCNFSDU40, go to www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/ meetings/detail/en/?meeting=CCNFSDU&session=40