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Report of the U.S. Delegate, 33rd Session, Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses

November 14–18, 2011
Bad Soden am Taunus, Germany


This Committee meeting was held at the kind invitation of the Government of Germany. The session was chaired by Dr. Pia Noble, Head of the Division of Specific Foods, Food Supplements and Food Additives, Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Two hundred and sixty-nine delegates attended, representing 69 member countries, one member organization, and 33 international organizations. In addition, two physical working groups (PWG) met on November 12 to discuss: 1) the Proposed Draft Revision of the Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children, and 2) the Proposed Draft Revision of the Codex General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods.

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; five government advisors, and six non-government advisors.

It was a productive meeting with two documents advanced to the Codex Alimentarius Commission for adoption at Step 5/8 and Step 5. Specifically, the Committee agreed to:

  • Advance to the 35th CAC Session:
    • Proposed draft Nutrient Reference Values for labelling purposes (NRVs) for saturated fatty acids and sodium for adoption at Step 5/8 that relate to the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health; and
    • Proposed Draft Guidelines on Formulated Complementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children at Step 5.
  • Continue to consider at Step 3 with the establishment of electronic working groups (eWGs) to facilitate progress:
    • Bracketed text in one section of a draft annex to the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (CAC/GL 2-1985) on general principles for establishing NRVs for nutrients associated with risk of diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NRVs-NCD), with new tasks to consider 1) potential consolidation of this Annex with the Annex on general principles for establishing vitamin and mineral NRVs, and 2) the need for additional NRVs-NCD and/or related new work;
    • Proposed draft additional or revised vitamin and mineral NRVs for inclusion in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling;
    • Proposed draft revised general principles for the addition of essential nutrients to foods (CAC/GL 9-1987), and
    • Proposed draft amendment of the Codex Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (Codex STAN 074-1981) to include a new part B for underweight children.
  • Continue to 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 33rd CCNFSDU session can be found in REP12/NFSDU on the Codex Web Site, www.codexalimentarius.org.

Matters Arising from Other Codex Committees

32nd (2011) Session of the Codex Committee on Methods, Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) 
At its last Session, the CCMAS agreed to establish an eWG led by the United Kingdom to consider the elaboration of a decision tree to facilitate analysts' selection of available methods for dietary fibre to consider at its next session.

The United States expressed interest in the CCNFSDU being kept informed about this work and asked whether the Committee also will have an opportunity to comment. The Chair indicated that the CCNFSDU will be kept informed.

43rd (2011) Session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives 
Food additive provisions in the Standard for Infant Formulas and Formula for Special Medical Purposes. The CCFA forwarded comments on food additive provisions in the Standard for Infant Formulas and Formula for Special Medical Purposes for Infants. Taking these comments into account, the Committee agreed to forward sodium phosphates and potassium phosphates to CCFA for endorsement for use as acidity regulators. The Committee also agreed that Switzerland would redraft the list of additives included in Annex II of the Discussion Paper on Food Additive Provisions in the Standard for Infant Formulas and Formula for Special Medical Purposes (CODEX STAN 72- 1981) (CX/FA 11/43/5) for consideration at the next session.

Carry-over of food additives into foods. The CCFA forwarded a question concerning the application of the carry-over of food additives in foods in categories 13.1 and 13.2 of the General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA). The Committee confirmed that the carry-over was applied consistently with Section 4.3 of the GSFA. The Committee also agreed to replace the text in the current sections on carry-over in the Standard for Follow-up Formula and the Standard for Canned Baby Foods to ensure consistency in the additive provisions in all of the standards for foods for infants and young children.

39th (2011) Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling 
Definition of "Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs)." At its last session, the CCFL referred to the CCNFSDU a draft definition of "Nutrient Reference Values" at Step 5 for comment. The CCNFSDU did not propose any amendments to the definition at this stage, but proposed to reconsider it after the principles for NRVs-NCD are finalized, including whether a reference to the general principles should be included with the definition.

Proposal for new work on the definition of trans-fatty acids. Malaysia informed the CCNFSDU that it wished to withdraw its proposal at the last CCFL session to undertake new work to review the definition of " trans fatty acids" in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling to take into consideration the origin of trans fatty acids. The Committee agreed that there was no need to revise the definition at this stage on this basis. In addition, Australia proposed that the Committee reconsider the exemption of conjugated linoleic acids from the Codex definition of " trans fatty acids". The Committee noted that this was a new issue and invited Australia to further elaborate on its proposal at the next session.

Matters of Interest from FAO AND WHO

A representative of the FAO reported that the organization is working on a new strategy for all its nutrition work which should be finalized in 2012. In addition, the representative identified some of its activities such as:

  • Meetings on nutrition information and education for Latin American and Caribbean countries (December 2011) and on diet and activity assessment methods (May 2012);
  • The development of a professional training program for nutrition education and communication in collaboration with the German Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection; and
  • Food composition activities that address regional food composition tables, biodiversity, and improved data quality.

In responding to a question from the United States about the feasibility of joint FAO/WHO scientific advice on nutrition and what actions WHO has taken in this regard, the WHO representative responded that because of the WHO guideline review process, it was no longer possible to convene ad hoc expert consultations, and that discussions were ongoing with the FAO on the establishment of Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Nutrition (JEMNU).

In addition, the WHO representative provided updates on some of its activities such as:

  • The current work of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG), and its subgroups on 1) micronutrients, 2) diet and health, 3) nutrition in the life course and undernutrition, and 4) monitoring and evaluation; and
  • Other work related to this Committee and to the Global Strategy for Diet, Physical Activity and Health (e.g., development of a road map to implement the Political Declaration adopted at the September UN General Assembly high-level meeting on Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases; development of a comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition; and strategies to reduce and monitor population salt consumption.)

Proposed Draft Additional or Revised Nutrient Reference Values for Labelling Purposes in the Guidelines for Nutrition Labelling

At the 31st (2009) and 32nd (2010) CCNFSDU sessions, the Committee discussed proposed additional and revised NRVs for vitamins and minerals based on the application of general principles for establishing vitamin and mineral NRVs, and consideration of FAO/WHO values from a 1998 joint FAO/WHO expert consultation as a primary data source. Given that some delegations expressed interest in considering scientific updates regarding nutrient requirements for one or more of these nutrients, the Committee asked FAO and WHO to review existing daily vitamin and mineral intake reference values for 28 vitamins and minerals including sodium and potassium, and their basis, and to take into account the general principles for selection of suitable data sources. The organizations were also asked to estimate the percent of change in the scientific evidence base since 1998.

The WHO/FAO representatives presented the report of data gathered from 55 countries, and identified both uses and limitations of the data. Calcium, iron, riboflavin, Vitamin A and Vitamin C had the most values reported by countries. In addition, calcium, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium and Vitamin D were among the nutrients with the greatest number of peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts since 1998. The WHO representative also provided an update that a new WHO recommendation on potassium intake from the work of a NUGAG subgroup would be available in 2012.

The Republic of Korea suggested forming an eWG to consider the FAO/WHO report in proposing additional and revised NRVs; Australia offered to lead this effort. In the course of this work, the eWG will consider the data from countries that was compiled in a spreadsheet, and identify any issues that arise in applying the General Principles.

Proposed Draft Annex to the Codex Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling: General Principles for Establishing Nutrient Reference Values for Nutrients Associated with Risk of Diet-Related Noncommunicable Diseases (NRVs-NCD) for the General Population

The Committee recalled that it agreed at its last session to establish an eWG chaired by the U.S. and co-chaired by Thailand and Chile with one of the charges to revise the proposed draft general principles for establishing NRVs-NCD. A focus was on text still in brackets in Sections 3.1 (which pertains to strength of the scientific evidence for an NRV-NCD) and Section 3.4 (which pertains to consideration of daily intake values for upper levels). In addition, options for revised text in other sections were considered as a result of comments received in response to a Codex Circular letter. The United States introduced the draft revision of the general principles and identified additional issues raised in comments. These included the potential consolidation of this draft Annex with the Annex on the vitamin and mineral NRV principles, the potential for more than one NRV for certain nutrients, potential new work to review the protein NRV, and presentation of information on NRVs in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling.

The Committee reviewed the draft principles section by section. It reached agreement on edits to the Preamble, definitions pertaining to nutrient intake values (Sec. 2), edits to clarify language to the first bullet on criteria for selection of nutrients (3.1); selection of suitable data sources to establish NRVs-NCD (Sec. 3.2), selection of the appropriate basis for determining and expressing NRVs-NCD (Sec. 3.3), and consideration of daily intake values for upper levels (Sec. 3.4).

Although much progress was made on these general principles, the Committee was unable to reach agreement on whether "probable" evidence should be considered in addition to "convincing" evidence in the establishment of Codex NRVs-NCD, and on how these levels of evidence would be defined. Consequently, two options for text were left in brackets in the first bullet of Section 3.1 for the Committee to further consider. The Committee agreed to establish an eWG chaired by the United States and co-chaired by Thailand and Chile to work in English and Spanish to prepare a revised document for the next session. As part of this work, the eWG will focus on text left in brackets in Section 3.1, and propose a consolidation of the two Annexes on general principles for establishing NRVs for the general population. In addition, the eWG will address additional issues raised in comments including whether more than one NRV can be set for certain nutrients, proposed amendments to Section 3.4.4 of the guidelines on Nutrition Labelling to refer to CCFL that relate to the listing of NRVs, and evaluation of interest in proposing new work to develop NRVs for total fat, available carbohydrate and protein based on considerations other than diet-related NCDs such as energy balance.

Proposed Draft NRVs-NCD

A second charge to the eWG was to propose NRVs-NCD for saturated fatty acids and sodium based on the draft general principles. Consistent with a principle that relevant daily intake values provided by FAO/WHO should be considered as primary sources in establishing NRVs-NCD, the eWG considered recommendations in two joint FAO/WHO expert consultation reports: 1) for saturated fatty acids—the report of the 2008 joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on fats and fatty acids in human nutrition (FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 91) , and 2) for sodium—the report of the 2002 FAO/WHO expert consultation on diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases (WHO Technical Report Series 916).

Thailand, as an eWG co-chair, informed the Committee that the working group concluded that an NRV-NCD should be established taking into consideration the draft principles, and had proposed 10% energy from saturated fatty acids as a basis for an NRV-NCD and 22 g (or 20 g if rounded) as the NRV-NCD based on the reference daily intake 8370 kJ/2000 kcal. Many delegations supported the value of 20 g as an NRV-NCD for saturated fatty acids. The Committee agreed to advance the proposed value of 20 g for saturated fatty acids to Step 5/8 for adoption by the CAC.

Chile, as the other eWG co-chair, informed the Committee that the working group concluded that an NRV-NCD should be established for sodium taking into consideration the draft principles, and had proposed 2000 mg. The Committee generally supported the outcome of the eWG and the level proposed, and agreed to advance the proposed value of 2000 mg for sodium to Step 5/8 for adoption by the CAC.

With regard to potential NRVs-NCD for other nutrients, the Committee agreed that next year, the eWG would consider the need for one or more additional NRVs-NCD for other nutrients with a convincing level of scientific evidence.

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 return the proposed draft revised general principles for redrafting by the electronic and physical working groups chaired by Canada and co-chaired by Mexico and New Zealand, and for circulation for comments at Step 3.

Canada, as chair of the working group, introduced CRD 2, the report of the pWG, and informed the Committee that the pWG had considered the structure of the document, purposes of each section and individual principles but had not discussed in detail the wording of the principles. Additional points that were raised included consideration of having separate general/overarching principles and guidance factors and additional principles specific to a particular type of nutrient addition.

Given that the Committee could not consider the document due to time constraints, it agreed to return the proposed draft revision for redrafting by an eWG chaired by Canada and co-chaired by New Zealand for consideration at the next session. The terms of reference for the eWG includes, among other things, obtaining agreement on the structure of the document, considering both headings and subheadings; obtaining agreement on which principles in sections 3 to 7 of CAC/GL 9-1987 are of general applicability or are additional principles for specific types of additions; and which principle could be considered guidance factors rather than principles. The eWG was also asked to consider which definitions are required, and the level of demonstration of public health need required to support mandatory versus voluntary addition of essential nutrients.

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 the last session, it had agreed to return the Proposed Draft Guidelines for redrafting by an eWG chaired by Ghana and to establish a pWG chaired by Ghana and co-chaired by the United States to meet immediately before the current session. The Delegation of Ghana introduced the report from the electronic and physical working groups (CRD 1). The Committee made further revisions to the draft guidelines; however, it was not possible to consider the Annex in the time available and the Committee agreed to consider the Annex at its next session. The Committee agreed to advance the Proposed Draft Revised Guidelines to Step 5 for adoption by the 35th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Proposed Draft Amendment of the Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (CODEX STAN 74-1981) to Include a New Part B for Underweight Children

The Committee recalled that its last session had 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 the Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (CODEX STAN 74-1981) and to establish an eWG chaired by India to prepare a draft new Part B of the standard for circulation at Step 3 and consideration at its next Session. The Delegation of India introduced the report of the eWG (CX/NFSDU 11/33/9). Due to time constraints, the Committee could not consider the document and returned the proposed draft amendment for redrafting by an eWG chaired by India to be circulated for comments at Step 3 and considered at the next Session.

Proposal to Review the Codex Standard for Follow-Up Formula (CODEX STAN 156-1987)

The Committee recalled that at its last session, it had supported the proposal of the Delegation of New Zealand to prepare a discussion paper for the Committee to consider the revision of this standard. The Delegation of New Zealand introduced the discussion paper (CX/NFSDU 11/33/10). Because the Committee did not have time to discuss the proposal, it agreed to consider the matter at its next Session.

Other Business and Future Work

No new business or future work was proposed at this session.

Date and Place of the Next CCNFSDU Session

The 34th Session of the CCNFSDU will take place from December 3 to 7, 2012 in Germany (with the exact location to be announced later).

Last Modified Sep 05, 2013