Call for industry feedback prior to food code meeting

Related tags Food industry Nutrition

Ahead of a meeting of UN-backed Codex in Bonn, Germany this coming
November various US government bodies will host a public meeting
providing the food industry with an opportunity to voice its
opinion on a range of issues from gluten-free food to a revised
standard for infant formula.

Slated for the agenda at the 26th session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) on 1-5 November will be a draft revised standard for gluten-free foods, guidelines for the use of nutrition claims, and a draft revised standard for processed cereal-based foods for infants and young children.

Codex​ participants will also look at the draft revision of the advisory lists of nutrient compounds for use in foods, as well as proposed draft recommendations for the scientific basis of health claims.

European legislation on health claims, proposed by the European Commission in 2003, has met with strongly opposing views on two main issues - the scope of claims allowed and the role of nutrient profiles, or whether a food's sugar and salt intake should determine whether it can carry a claim.

The proposed laws would have a far-reaching impact on functional foods, as well as the mainstream food industry. While it is difficult to define the financial advantage to products carrying a health claim, it is widely acknowledged that in today's highly competitive food industry, a health claim can significantly boost a product's marketing success, especially given the current 'mega-trend' for self-medication.

The draft proposal initially released by the Commission presented major problems for the food industry. Article 4 proposed that all nutrition and health claims be subject to the nutritional profile of the food, suggesting that if the total amount of fat, saturates, sugar or salt contained was above recommended levels, the claim would not be permitted. It also envisaged prohibiting all claims for weight loss, children's foods and psychological benefits.

The Commission is expected to rework this draft before it reaches the newly elected MEPs and industry is hoping to see amendments benefit from last year's heated discussions.

Codex, or the food code, was established in 1962 by two United Nations organisations, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is the major international body for encouraging fair international trade in food and protecting the health and economic interests of consumers.

The system principally functions through the adoption of food standards, codes of practice, and other guidelines developed by its committees, and by promoting their adoption and implementations through nationalgovernments.

CCNFSDU was established to study specific nutritional problems assigned to it by the Commission - the body charged with developing a food code - and to advise the Commission on general nutritional issues.

The US public meeting for feedback on the upcoming CCNFSDU meeting will take place on 9th September.

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