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Report of the U.S. Delegate, 32nd Session, Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses

November 1–5, 2010
Santiago, Chile

The 32nd Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) was held from November 1 to 5 in Santiago, Chile at the kind invitation of the Government of Chile in cooperation with the Government of Germany. The session was chaired by Dr. Pia Noble with the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, and co-chaired by Dr. Lorena Rodriguez with the Ministry of Health in Chile. Two hundred and twenty-seven delegates attended, representing 46 member countries, one member organization, and 20 international organizations. In addition, two physical working groups (PWGs) met on October 31 to discuss: 1) the establishment of additional or revised Nutrient Reference Values for food labelling purposes (NRVs) for vitamins and minerals (1/2 day), and 2) proposals for principles and criteria for the development of NRVs for nutrients associated with risk of diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NRVs-NCD) (1/2 day).

The United States was represented by the U.S. Delegate, Dr. Barbara Schneeman, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; the U.S. Alternate Delegate, Dr. Allison Yates, USDA Agricultural Research Service; four additional government advisors, and four non-government advisors.

It was a productive meeting with progress made on all agenda items. Specifically, the Committee agreed to:

  • Advance to the 34th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for adoption at Step 8:

    • A draft annex to the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (CAC/GL 2-1985) on General Principles for Establishing NRVs of Vitamins and Minerals for the General Population (which may be consolidated later with the general principles for NRVs-NCD);
    • Proposed revisions to the provisions and designation of "Type" for 14 methods in the Codex list of methods of analysis for dietary fibre, which will first be forwarded to the Codex Committee on Methods, Analysis and Sampling for endorsement;
  • Continue to consider at Step 3:
    • Proposed draft of additional or revised NRVs of vitamins and minerals for the general population (to include in Section 3.4.4 of the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling);
    • A proposed draft annex to the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling on general principles for establishing NRVs-NCD (with the establishment of an electronic working group (EWG) that will focus on text still in brackets and on proposals for NRVs-NCD for two nutrients referred by the Codex Committee on Food Labelling);
    • Proposed Draft Revised General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods (CAC/GL 9-1987) (with the establishment of both an EWG and PWG to facilitate progress);
    • Proposed draft revision of the Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children (CAC/GL 08-1991) (with the establishment of both an EWG and PWG to facilitate progress);
  • Advance a new work proposal to the 34th CAC session for approval to:
    • Include a new Part B for underweight children in the Codex Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (CODEX STAN 74-1981) (with the establishment of an EWG to facilitate progress).
  • Consider a discussion paper at the next CCNFSDU session with regard to proposing new work to revise the Codex Standard for Follow-Up Formula (CODEX STAN 156-1987).

Below is a summary of the discussion at this meeting. The full report of the 32nd CCNFSDU session can be found in ALINORM 11/34/26. It will be posted on the Codex Web Site, www.codexalimentarius.net.

Matters Referred by the Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP)

Nutritional Risk Analysis Principles and Guidelines for Application to the Work of the CCNFSDU. 
At its 26th Session, the CCGP concluded that the Codex nutritional risk analysis principles generally followed the structure of the Codex Working Principles for Risk Analysis, and noted that the order of some sections might be reviewed and the principles further developed, if needed. The Committee agreed that it wasn't necessary to revise the principles as they were only recently adopted (in 2009).

Definition of Hazard. In response to a question posed by an observer at the 26th CCGP session on whether the definition of hazard in the Procedural Manual should be revised or a footnote added, the Committee agreed that this was not necessary.

Matters Referred by the Codex Committee on Methods, Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS)

Methods of Analysis for Dietary Fibre. At its 31st Session, the CCMAS agreed that the list of dietary fibre methods referred to it by the CCNFSDU could be endorsed as Type IV methods to make them available as Codex methods, and asked the CCNFSDU to define their scope more precisely, noting that some might be suitable as Type I methods. In response, the U.S. and the European Union presented separate proposals in conference room documents at the outset of the plenary session, and then drafted a joint proposal in a new conference room document during the session. After considering the proposal, the CCNFSDU agreed: 1) to define the provisions for six general methods more precisely and to propose them as Type I methods; 2) to propose eight methods that measure individual specific components as Type I methods; and 3) to propose that three other methods be retained as Type IV methods. The Committee also agreed that AOAC 2001.03 should be retained and should not be replaced by AOAC 2009.01, and to further define the applicability of these two methods.

Matters of Interest from FAO AND WHO

A representative of FAO reported on FAO/WHO joint activities and on activities specific to FAO including:

  • Plans to publish the full report of the 2008 FAO/WHO Joint Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition in November 2010, and the full report of the expert consultation on the risk and benefits of fish consumption in 2011;
  • Planned meetings hosted by FAO on sustainable diets (November 2010) and on protein quality (March 2011);
  • Collaborative research to improve recipes for nutrient-rich local foods; and
  • Food composition projects.

A representative of WHO reported on their activities, including:

  • A proposal by FAO and WHO for Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Nutrition (JEMNU) to replace the previous ad hoc expert consultations for providing scientific advice to Codex and member states;
  • The current work of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG), and the establishment of four subgroups on 1) micronutrients, 2) diet and health, 3) nutrition in the life course and undernutrition, and 4) monitoring and evaluation;
  • The establishment of a global network of institutions for scientific advice on nutrition;
  • Current work related to the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health including population sodium/salt reduction strategies and regional initiatives; and
  • Work related to nutrient profiling initiated in part to respond to requests for guidance from member states.

Draft General Principles for Establishing Vitamin and Mineral NRVs for the General Population

The Committee reviewed the draft principles at Step 5 section by section. It noted many similarities between this draft Annex to the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling and the proposed draft Annex at Step 3 on general principles for establishing NRVs for nutrients associated with risk of noncommunicable diseases for the general population. It further noted the need for consistency whenever possible. The Committee agreed to a few edits to clarify text in the preamble, and to adding a principle to the section on Selection of Suitable Data Sources to Establish NRVs that "Higher priority should be given, as appropriate, to values in which the evidence has been evaluated through a systematic review." The Committee also agreed to slightly modify the wording of a principle that addresses the selection of a chosen reference population group for these NRVs, and to advance the draft annex to Step 8 for adoption by the 34th CAC session. In response to comments by the U.S. and other delegations that it might be preferable to integrate the two draft Annexes into one Annex on general principles for establishing NRVs, the Codex Secretariat indicated that it would still be possible to merge the two Annexes as the work proceeds and if the Committee agreed, and to propose other consequential changes to the text of the Guidelines, as needed.

Proposed Draft Additional or Revised Vitamin and Mineral NRVs for the General Population

At its last session, the CCNFSDU agreed to hold a physical working group immediately before this session to be chaired by the Republic of Korea and co-chaired by Australia to further consider proposed additional or revised vitamin and mineral NRVs at Step 3 (ALINORM 10/33/26 Appendix IV). The working group considered whether all the potential NRVs (pNRVs) calculated from WHO/FAO Recommended Nutrient Intakes are suitable with respect to their scientific basis, but could not reach a consensus. After considerable discussion, the working group proposed that the Committee request that WHO/FAO provide a report by the next session on relevant and recent values that reflect independent review of the science from recognized authoritative scientific bodies. The Committee considered the working group proposal with some delegations including the U.S. proposing to prioritize the vitamins and minerals in order to limit the scope of the work. However, it was finally agreed to consider 28 vitamins and minerals in the scope of work (including sodium and potassium), and to prepare a request to WHO/FAO to present the requested information in tables to be considered at the next session. As a second request regarding potassium in relation to the WHO's current work on salt and sodium, the Committee stated that WHO may wish to consider the establishment of daily potassium intake values for the general population on the basis of dietary adequacy and/or reduction of chronic noncommunicable disease risk within this framework. The Committee agreed to retain the proposed draft of additional or revised vitamin and mineral NRVs at Step 4, pending consideration of the report from WHO and FAO.

Proposed Draft Revision of the Codex General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods (CAC/GL 9-1987)

The Committee recalled that it had agreed at its last session to establish an EWG chaired by Canada and co-chaired by Chile and New Zealand to prepare a proposed draft revised general principles for consideration by the next session, following approval as new work by the Commission. The Delegation of Canada informed the Committee about the EWG's consideration of the main aspects outlined in the project document. With regard to this work's scope, some delegations expressed the view that the principles should be comprehensively revised, while the U.S. and other delegations considered that relevant sections should be updated but the basic structure of the document should be retained (noting also that the approved work was to amend the general principles).

The Committee discussed: 1) whether the current title "principles" should be retained; 2) whether it should be amended to "Guidelines"; or 3) whether it might refer to both "principles and guidelines". The Committee did not come to a conclusion, and agreed that the title could be reconsidered after review of the entire document. The Committee then discussed existing and new proposed text for the introduction, and confirmed that the addition of nutrients should be rational and safe, and that this Codex text should take into consideration provisions in the Codex Nutritional Risk Analysis Principles and Guidelines, where applicable. With regard to the definition section, the Committee discussed the definitions for Essential Nutrients, Nutritional Equivalence, and Fortification, but did not come to a conclusion. The Committee did propose, however, to include separate sections on: 1) fundamental principles, and 2) basic principles that are applicable to all types of addition of nutrients to foods.

A discussion on the application of the principles to mandatory and voluntary nutrient addition followed, with different views expressed on the extent to which the same or similar principles apply to both. The Committee agreed that work should proceed in an EWG that will consider, among other things, which of the principles in four sections of the latest revised draft document are applicable to mandatory and/or voluntary nutrient addition, and how these principles should be presented and organized. A PWG meeting will be held immediately prior to the next session to facilitate progress on this agenda item. Both the EWG and physical working group will be chaired by Canada and co-chaired by Mexico and New Zealand.

Proposed Draft Revision of the Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children (CAC/GL 08-1991)

The Committee recalled that at its last session, it had established an EWG chaired by the delegation of Ghana to prepare a proposed draft revision of the above Guidelines for consideration by the next session, following the Commission's approval as new work. In its report on the work of the EWG, Ghana highlighted the rationale for the revision and the main aspects to be covered. Ghana further identified some of the issues that had not been resolved, including the title of this Codex text, its scope, terminology, and specific provisions on nutrient content and the use of ingredients.

The Committee focused its discussion on how to title the document and describe the foods that are covered by these guidelines. Several delegations expressed the view that the document should refer to "complementary" foods as defined by WHO, and as initially agreed in the project document. Other delegations expressed the view that the Guidelines should cover foods which are added to "complementary foods" in order to improve nutrition and prevent malnutrition. In addition, some delegations pointed out that "supplementary foods" were intended for malnourished children and either should not be mentioned in the guidelines, or if included, should be considered separately. After extensive discussion, the Committee agreed to revise the title to refer to "formulated complementary foods". The committee also agreed to describe "formulated complementary foods" as foods suitable for use during the complementary feeding period; as specially formulated foods with improved nutritional quality; and as foods that can be used as a supplement to the local diet to provide those nutrients which either are lacking or are present in insufficient quantities.

The Committee could not consider the document further because of time constraints, and agreed that Ghana would chair an EWG to prepare a revised document for consideration at the next session. In addition, it was agreed that a PWG chaired by Ghana and co-chaired by the United States will meet immediately prior to the next session to consider the revised document.

Proposed General Principles for Establishing Nutrient Reference Values for Nutrients Associated with Risk of Noncommunicable Diseases for the General Population

The Committee recalled that it agreed at its last session to establish an EWG and PWG chaired by the U.S. and co-chaired by Thailand and Chile to prepare documents on proposed principles and criteria for the development of NRVs for nutrients associated with risk of diet-related noncommunicable diseases for the general population (NRVs-NCD). At the plenary, the U.S. delegation presented on behalf of the co-chairs and PWG the discussion and recommendations from the working group. The Committee reviewed the proposed draft principles section by section, and made a few edits to the preamble and the general principles for establishing NRVs-NCD. With regard to the criteria for selection of nutrients for NRVs-NCD, the Committee considered whether "probable" scientific evidence for a nutrient-noncommunicable disease risk relationship should be included in the criteria (in addition to "convincing" evidence). Some delegations including the U.S. did not support the inclusion of the "probable" criteria, and noted the shortcomings of evidence in the criteria for "probable" that were used in two FAO/WHO reports that evaluated the scientific evidence for nutrient-noncommunicable disease risk relationships. In addition to the identified shortcomings of the "probable" criteria, these delegations supported only the reference to "convincing evidence" with the view that the highest level of evidence should be required in the framework of Codex and that "probable" evidence could be used at the national level as indicated in the draft preamble. Other delegations supported "probable", indicating, among other things, the consequences of admitting only convincing evidence in relation to regulations. The U.S. delegation pointed out, however, that the current work is to develop NRVs and that many factors can be considered to determine what nutrients should be declared on the label. After extensive discussion, the Committee could not reach a consensus and agreed to retain the word "probable" in square brackets for further consideration. The Committee also agreed to retain in square brackets a general principle on consideration of daily intake values for upper levels when developing NRVs-NCD.

The Committee noted that although significant progress was made on this document, there were still major issues to be resolved, and thus agreed to retain the document, as amended at this session, at Step 3. It further agreed that an EWG would be chaired by the U.S. and co-chaired by Thailand and Chile to prepare a revised document that would focus on: 1) the issues that had not been resolved in the draft general principles, and 2) proposals for NRVs for the two nutrients referred for review by the CCFL (i.e., sodium and saturated fat). In a related matter, the Committee recalled that section 3.4.4 in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling would need to be revised to include the revised and additional NRVs that result from the current work of the CCNFSDU. The Committee agreed to ask the CCFL if it has any comments with regard to the revision of the Guidelines for use by the CCNFSDU in developing proposed text for Section 3.4.4.

Inclusion of a New Part B for Underweight Children in the Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (CODEX STAN 74-1981)

The Committee recalled that it had agreed at its last session to establish an EWG chaired by India to prepare a revised discussion paper on the inclusion of a new Part B for underweight children in the Codex Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods. The delegation of India, on behalf of the EWG, indicated that children's undernutrition is a serious problem, especially in developing countries. The delegation proposed a new Part B of the Standard to address the nutritional needs of underweight infants and young children, and to specifically consider whether there should be a minimum content for cereal, protein, and energy density. In the course of discussion of the proposed new work, the representative of WHO indicated, among other things, that if this work were to move forward, careful review of the concept and approach should be undertaken, as WHO has tried to focus attention on the more global problem of child undernutrition. The Committee considered the proposed project document and made some amendments, including that the Committee would consider if specific labelling would be required in conjunction with the new Part B. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to ask the 34th Session of the Commission to approve new work on the inclusion of a new Part B for Underweight Children in Codex STAN 74-1981.

Other Business and Future Work

The Delegation of New Zealand proposed to prepare a discussion paper on the revision of part or all of the Codex Standard for Follow-Up Formula (156-1987) in order to consider updates to the standard. The Committee agreed that New Zealand would prepare the discussion paper for it to consider at the next session.

Date and Place of the Next CCNFSDU Session

The 32nd Session of the CCNFSDU will take place from November 14-18, 2011 in Bad Soden am Taunus, Germany.

Last Modified Sep 06, 2013