US Pharmacopeia has launched a scientific exchange with the aim of harmonizing international standards for food ingredients and medicines, as global supply chains have become increasingly interlinked.
US Pharmacopeia is the standards-setting authority behind the Food Chemicals Codex, a compendium of ingredient monographs and tests used to ensure the quality, purity and safety of more than 1,100 food ingredients.
The organization has set up a Visiting Scientist Program, which will bring scientists from around the world to USP’s headquarters in Maryland throughout 2010 to allow collaboration on a number of specific projects. The three- to six-month projects could include standards development and testing or analysis of food ingredients, dietary supplements, excipients and pharmaceuticals.
CEO of USP Roger Williams said: "As the trend of a global food and drug supply continues to advance rapidly, international cooperation is increasingly becoming an essential element of the work of pharmacopoeias and regulatory agencies. Our collaborative activities are proceeding on a number of fronts, including pilot programs for harmonizing standards, opening international offices and joint scientific meetings, among many others.
“…Staff exchange such as the Visiting Scientist Program is a key approach, and USP is pleased to host these scientists."
The first scientist to take part in the program, Dr. Minghao Zhou from China's Zhejiang Provincial Institute for Food and Drug Control, arrived at USP’s headquarters last week.
As well as China, USP said it also expected to welcome scientists from Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand in the initial group taking part in the program.
Recognition of the need for harmonized standards is important to properly define ingredients, prevent adulteration and to secure the reputation of newly commercial ingredients from the outset.
In stevia analysis for example, there have already been some instances where other sweeteners like asparatame and sucralose have shown up, either to make the product taste better or for economic reasons. If the adulterating compound is less expensive, this could shave down the cost of this natural, premium product.
Standards for stevia-derived sweeteners were included in the latest edition of the Food Chemicals Codex for the first time.