Codex committee votes for upper safe limits

Related tags Maximum levels Dietary supplement

The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses
yesterday agreed to abolish the 100 per cent RDA measure for
setting maximum levels of vitamins and minerals, as proposed in a
draft guideline.

The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses yesterday agreed to abolish the 100 per cent RDA measure for setting maximum levels of vitamins and minerals, as proposed in a draft guideline.

How to establish maximum levels of ingredients in supplements has been hotly debated by the dietary supplements industry for years. Determining levels by RDA, or Recommended Daily Allowance, has seen strong opposition from several parties who claim that this can restrict a consumer's intake to almost ineffective levels.

The RDA measure had been included under article 3.2.2 of the 'proposed draft guidelines for vitamin and mineral food supplements', established at previous Codex meetings. The Codex Alimentarius​, set up in the 1960s by the World Trade Organisation and UN, determines food standards for global trading partners. It therefore plays a key role in determining the shape and direction of much future national, regional and international regulation affecting dietary supplements. The decision to delete RDA as a measure for vitamin levels represents a significant victory for those supporting alternative references for supplement levels, notably the use of risk assessment and upper safe levels.

Codex guidelines had specified as a first option for vitamin and mineral levels that 'the maximum level of each vitamin and/or mineral contained in a vitamin and mineral supplement per daily portion of consumption as suggested by the manufacturer should not exceed [100 per cent] of the recommended daily intake as determined by FAO/WHO'.

Some support for this recommendation came from Norway, Malaysia and Thailand, however a majority of countries and non-governmental organisations were in favour of its deletion and chairman Rolf Grossklaus decided to remove the option from the draft, reported the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA).

The second option on maximum levels suggested that limits be guided by upper safe levels established by generally accepted scientific data and daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources.

A final sentence referring to the need to take into accountreference intake values of vitamins and minerals for the population concerned has however been left in the text for this guideline, despite resistance from IADSA and other members of the committee. It has been included in brackets after the second option, which becomes the only accepted guideline on this issue.

The article now states that maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in supplements per daily portion of consumption shall be set according to (a) upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals established by scientific risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, taking into consideration, as appropriate, the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups; and (b) the daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources.

Simon Pettman of the IADSA said the move was 'proof' that risk assessment is the basis for calculating maximum levels of vitamins and minerals, as the RDA now has no basis in Codex texts.

The committee continues its discussion on the supplement guidelines, and other proposals including those on health claims and infant foods, for the rest of this week in Bonn, Germany.

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