Report of the U.S. Delegate, 34th Session, Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses
December 3–7, 2012,
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 seventy four delegates attended, representing 62 Member Countries, one Member Organization, and 31 international organizations.
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 several documents advanced to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for adoption at Step 5/8 or Step 8, and new work recommended.
With respect to implementing the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health to reduce the global burden of diet-related noncommunicable diseases, the Committee agreed to advance to the 36th CAC Session for adoption:
- Draft General Principles for Establishing Nutrient Reference Values (for labeling purposes) (NRVs) for Nutrients Associated with Risk of Diet-Related Noncommunicable Diseases for the General Population at Step 5/8, including a recommendation to consolidate these principles with those for establishing NRVs for vitamins and minerals; and
- Draft NRVs for saturated fatty acids and sodium at Step 8.
Additional documents advanced to the 36th CAC Session for adoption are:
- Draft Guidelines on Formulated Complementary Foods for Infants and Young Children at Step 8; and
- Draft additional and revised NRVs for 11 vitamins and minerals.
CCNFSDU ongoing work includes:
- NRVs for other vitamins and minerals and consideration of whether the protein NRV should be revised;
- Amendments to the General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods;
- Amendments to the Codex Standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children to include a new part B for underweight children; and
- A revised list of food additives in infant formula.
New Work is recommended to:
- Review the Codex Standard for Follow-Up Formula.
Below is a summary of the discussion at this meeting. The full report of the 34th CCNFSDU session can be found in REP13/NFSDU on the Codex Web Site, www.codexalimentarius.org.
Matters Arising from Other Codex Committees
40th (2012) Session of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL)
Responding to a request from CCFL about the rationale for setting 10% of the NRV as a condition for a comparative claim for micronutrients (in Section 6.3 of the Guidelines for the Use of Nutrition and Health Claims — CAC/GL 23-1997), CCNFSDU noted that 10% was set as a pragmatic approach (rather than based on scientific evidence). CCNFSDU delegations expressed differing views on appropriate conditions for these comparative claims, as well as concern about imprecision in the Section 6.3 text, so the Committee advised CCFL to clarify the text of Section 6.3 before taking a final position on setting conditions.
Claim for “free” of Trans Fatty Acids
The CCFL asked CCNFSDU to provide advice on establishing conditions for claims for “free” of trans fatty acids (TFA).The CCNFSDU agreed that it would consider the conditions after CCFL concludes that such a claim should be established, taking into consideration the global public health importance of TFA.
Methods of Analysis for TFA
The CCFL asked CCNFSDU to consider asking the Codex Committee on Methods and Analysis (CCMAS) to review AOCS Official Method Ce 1h-05 for TFA in foods as it is only applicable to certain types of fats and oils and to consider AOAC Official Method 996.06, currently a Type II method for the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (CAC/GL-2-1985) for saturated fatty acids as a Type II method for TFA for the purposes of these Guidelines and potentially for the Guidelines for Use of Nutrition and Health Claims. The CCNFSDU agreed to ask CCMAS to review the applicability of methods of analysis for TFA as currently defined in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling.
Matters of Interest from FAO AND WHO
Procedures for Joint Expert Meetings on Nutrition
The FAO representative informed the Committee that FAO and WHO had worked this year to finalize procedures for Joint Expert Meetings on Nutrition (JEMNU) to provide scientific advice to Codex and Member countries. JEMNU would not have a permanent secretariat and would be activated when scientific advice was requested, with both organizations providing human resources for the temporary secretariat. There would be a call for experts each time JEMNU is active, and report(s) provided to Codex and members for their deliberation. Delegations expressed their appreciation to FAO and WHO for establishing procedures for JEMNU as it would provide a scientific basis for the Committee's work, and is especially relevant to certain agenda items such as establishing and updating NRVs.
New FAO Strategy to Improve Nutrition
The FAO representative informed the Committee about its new strategy for supporting member countries to increase the effectiveness of food and agriculture systems in improving nutrition across the life cycle with partners at the national, regional and global levels. FAO would bring expertise on food based approaches to complementary feeding and maternal nutrition in global efforts like the Zero Hunger Challenge, and would provide scientific advice on nutrition-related issues.
Updates on WHO Activities
The WHO representative informed the Committee about several activities including:
- A comprehensive global monitoring framework for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases;
- WHO guidelines on sodium and potassium intake which will be published at the end of 2012 and ongoing work on other macronutrients;
- Adoption of a comprehensive plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition by the World Health Assembly in May of 2012; and
- Publication of a technical note on supplementary foods for the management of moderate acute malnutrition in infants and children 6 to 59 months of age.
Draft Revision of the Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children (CAC/GL 8-1991)
The Committee recalled that the Draft Revision had been adopted at Step 5 at the last session and forwarded to Step 6 by the 35th Session of the Commission. The Committee agreed to focus its discussions on the sections remaining in square brackets and on the Annex, which had not been completed at the last session because of time constraints. The Committee agreed to retain the Annex and list the Reference Nutrient Intakes defined in the FAO/WHO Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition and agreed that the suggested total quantity of each of the vitamins and minerals contained in a daily ration should be at least 50% of the Reference Nutrient Intakes or Individual Nutrient Level (INL98). The Committee also resolved the text remaining in square brackets and agreed to add a new Section 11 that contains the statement “The products covered by these Guidelines are not breastmilk substitutes and shall not be presented as such” for consistency with the standard for Processed Cereal-Based Foods (CODEX STAN 74-1981 ). The Committee agreed to advance the Draft Revision to Step 8 for adoption by the 36th CAC Session.
Proposed Annex in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling (CAC/GL 2-1985) on General Principles for Establishing Nutrient Reference Values for Nutrients Associated with Risk of Diet-Related Noncommunicable Diseases (NRVs-NCD) for the General Population
The United States, as chair of an electronic working group (eWG) co-chaired by Thailand and Chile, summarized recommendations to finalize the general principles for establishing NRVs-NCD. The Committee considered the recommendations and made amendments to the Preamble and Section 3.1. The Committee agreed to advance the proposed draft principles to Step 5/8 for adoption by the 36th CAC Session. The Delegation of Malaysia expressed their objection to the decision.
Consolidation of the Two Annexes on General Principles for NRVS
The mandate of the eWG chaired by the United States included proposing a consolidation of the Annex on proposed general principles for establishing NRVs-NCD and the Annex on general principles for establishing vitamin and mineral NRVs. The Committee agreed to consolidate the two Annexes and on amendments to the proposed text, in addition to editorial changes and amendments previously agreed on by the Committee that are specific to NRV-NCDs.
The Committee agreed to forward the consolidated text to the 41st CCFL Session for consideration and to the 36th CAC Session for adoption. The Delegation of Malaysia expressed their objection to the decision.
Draft NRVs for Saturated Fatty Acids and Sodium
At the last session, the Committee forwarded proposed draft NRVs for saturated fatty acids (SFA) and sodium to the Commission at Step 5/8 and the Commission adopted them at Step 5, noting related WHO work on SFA and sodium. The WHO representative at this session stated that WHO will continue to inform the Committee on the progress and outcomes of the work of a subgroup of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Advisory Group (NUGAG), but that based on available evidence and recommendations to date including the joint FAO/WHO expert consultations and WHO's guidelines, WHO would support the proposed value of 20 g for SFA as an NRV-NCD, and indicated that the new WHO guideline on sodium intake for adults and children supports the proposed NRV-NCD for sodium (2000 mg). The Committee agreed to advance the values of 20 g for SFA and 2000 mg for sodium to Step 8 for adoption at the 36th CAC Session. The Delegations of Malaysia and the Philippines expressed their objections on the NRV for SFA.
Proposed Draft Additional or Revised NRVs for Vitamins and Minerals
The Committee recalled that its last session considered a report by FAO/WHO on a review of existing vitamin and mineral daily intake reference values, and had agreed that an eWG chaired by Australia would, on the basis of the report and in accordance with the General Principles for Establishing Nutrient Reference Values of Vitamins and Minerals for the General Population, consider all NRVs for vitamins and minerals listed in Appendix IV, ALINORM 10/33/26, and formulate recommendations for NRVs for consideration at the next session. The Delegation of Australia indicated that the General Principles had been applied in the process of selecting the NRVs, and that the eWG had considered potential NRVs derived from WHO/FAO Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNI) and considered potential NRVs for nutrients in which no RNI had been established. The Committee agreed to forward the proposed draft NRVs for the following nutrients to Step 5/8 for adoption at the 36th CAC Session: vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenate, biotin, calcium and iodine. The Committee further agreed with the conclusion of the eWG that the following NRVs derived from the WHO/FAO RNIs were potentially unsuitable for use in Codex nutrition labeling: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, magnesium, and selenium. In addition, the Committee agreed that the NRVs for iron and zinc would require further consideration (in an eWG next year) and to set aside consideration of NRVs for the following nutrients to a later date: phosphorus, chloride, copper, fluoride, manganese, chromium and molybdenum. To aid the Committee in considering suitable data sources to derive potential NRVs, the Committee agreed on a working definition of “Recognized, Authoritative, Scientific Body”, abbreviated as “RASB.” The Committee will proceed in recommending additional or revised NRVs in an eWG next year, and consider whether additional FAO/WHO scientific advice is needed for certain nutrients.
Other Recommendations Related to NRVs
The Committee considered a proposal from the eWG chaired by the U.S. to amend Section 3.4.4 of the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling that relate to the listing of NRVs. The Committee agreed to certain amendments to the proposed text and to refer the proposed text to CCFL for consideration.
The Committee agreed to review the protein NRV in light of scientific updates as part of the eWG next year that will consider NRVs for other vitamins and minerals.
In addition, the U.S. offered to prepare a discussion paper on a potential NRV for potassium in relation to NCD risk, and to consider suitable data sources from FAO/WHO and recognized authoritative scientific bodies.
Proposed Amendments to the Codex General Principles for the Addition of Essential Nutrients to Foods (CAC/GL 9-1987)
The Delegation of Canada indicated that the eWG it chaired with New Zealand agreed to continue with the structure in CAC/GL 9-1987 that includes sections on Scope, Definitions, Principles, and Principles for Specific Types of Nutrient Addition, with final decisions on naming the sections to be decided later. The Committee discussed the latest proposed revision of text in the Introduction and first three sections based on the work of the eWG, but could not proceed further because of time constraints. Canada and New Zealand agreed to consider the comments made in writing and at this session, and to prepare a revised draft for consideration at the next session. In addition, the Committee agreed to convene a physical working group prior to the next session to consider the revised draft and the comments at Step 3.
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 agreed to establish an eWG, chaired by India and co-chaired by Botswana to revise the Proposed Draft, especially the Scope, taking into account the comments made during the session and WHO technical note “Food supplementation for children with moderate acute malnutrition.” The Committee agreed to return the Proposed Draft Amendment at Step 3 to the eWG for redrafting and consideration at the next session.
Proposal to Review the Codex Standard for Follow-up Formula (CODEX STAN 156-1987)
The Committee recalled that it agreed at its 32nd Session (2010) that New Zealand would prepare a discussion paper to consider full or partial review of the Standard for Follow-up Formula and that at the last session it had agreed to consider the matter at the next session because it had not had enough time to consider the discussion paper. The Delegation of New Zealand explained that the Standard was developed more than 20 years ago and required updating to take into account technological developments and the diversification of follow-up formula in several countries. The Committee agreed to propose new work for a full review of the Standard. Subject to the approval of the Commission, the Committee further agreed to establish an eWG, chaired by New Zealand and co-chaired by France and Indonesia with the following terms of reference: (i) develop a draft discussion document for the review of the Codex Standard for Follow-up Formula (CODEX STAN 156-1987) with an initial focus on the essential composition of Follow-up Formula for older infants and young children aged 6-36 months; (ii) consider if any differences are required in the essential composition for older infants (6-12 months of age) and young children (12-36 months of age); (iii) identify areas where additional technical guidance and expert advice will be required by the Committee; (iv) collect data and information on Follow-up Formula and its role in the diet that will assist the Committee with the review of the Follow-up Formula standard; and (v) develop a draft revised standard for consideration by the CCNFSDU at Step 2.
Proposed Draft Revision of the List of Food Additives
The Committee recalled that at its last session it had agreed that Switzerland would redraft the list of additives for circulation through a circular letter and revise it in the light of the comments for consideration at the next session. The Committee agreed to postpone consideration of the Draft Revision until the next session because there had been no time to review the document due it its late arrival.
Proposal to Review the Codex Definition of Trans Fatty Acids
The Committee agreed at its last session that Australia would prepare a discussion paper to reconsider the exemption of conjugated fatty acids in the Codex definition of TFA in light of new studies. At this session, the Committee agreed to defer this issue until work by a subgroup of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group is completed.
Other Business and Future Work
Proposal to Develop a Discussion Paper on the Biofortification of Staple Food Crops with Essential Vitamins and Minerals by Conventional Breeding
The Observer of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) made a presentation about biofortification of crops by conventional breeding and proposed to prepare a discussion paper for consideration at the next session. The Committee agreed with a proposal by the Delegation of Canada to collaborate with IFPRI in preparing the discussion paper.
Date and Place of the Next CCNFSDU Session
The 35th Session of the CCNFSDU will take place from November 4 to 8, 2013 in Germany, with final arrangements subject to confirmation by the Host Country and the Codex Secretariat.