No progress on Codex health claims debate

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, Nutrition

The Codex nutrition committee made little headway on draft health
claims recommendations this week but discussion looks set to
advance more rapidly next year, with new input from member
countries.

The draft text had already generated more comments this year than previously, and the key controversial issues were presented to the committee meeting in Bonn by France, overseeing the text.

Much of the debate centers on questions about how to assess the scientific basis of health claims, with some members calling for use of the PASSCLAIM work.

However the committee decided that the Codex Secretariat would send out a Circular Letter with these questions to member countries and observers calling for comment on them.

France will then revise the document, taking into account the written comments provided by member countries and observers and adding the proposals already put forward.

The committee also agreed to move health claims up the agenda for the 2006 meeting in Thailand to give them more time for discussion.

This year's meeting, attended by 300 delegates from around 70 countries, was dominated by discussion of infant formula guidelines and cereal-based foods.

Delegates also ran out of time to cover implementation of the WHO strategy on diet and health. WHO has asked the nutrition and food labelling committees to produce an action document on this area, although both the European Union and the USA expressed some concerns in relation to this timeline.

And while all members agree that Codex should be involved, it is unclear to what extent.

Almost an entire day of the meeting was spent concluding the definition and properties of dietary fibre. However, the committee did not agree on the methods of analysis to measure the presence of dietary fibre and on the table of conditions. These two issues will have to be discussed again next year.

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