Codex adopts new dietary supplement provisions

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food supplements Codex alimentarius Dietary supplement Nutrition Codex alimentarius commission

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) has adopted new provisions for food supplements, including recommendations on the substantiation of health claims.

The provisions adopted by the Codex decision-making body during a meeting that took place last week have been welcomed by the supplements industry, which said they are in line with its own recommendations.

These Codex provisions, which now become official Codex Standards and Guidelines, include:

  • Recommendations on the Scientific Substantiation of Health Claims
  • Nutritional Risk Analysis Principles
  • Provisions on Gum Arabic
  • The definition and table of conditions of dietary fibre
  • The use of eight food colours in food supplements

Health claims – Risk analysis

The adopted Recommendations on the Scientific Substantiation of Health Claims now take into account the totality of the available relevant scientific data and weighing of the evidence for substantiating a health claim, rather than placing primary importance on human intervention trials.

Prior to these recommendations, Codex general guidelines on health claims contained the definitions of claims, as well as prohibited claims, potentially misleading claims and conditional claims.

In addition, the new Nutritional Risk Analysis Principles provides “a solid framework for the potential future application of the risk assessment method by Codex for the use of vitamins, minerals and other substances in food supplements”, ​according to the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA).

Gum Arabic – Food colours

CAC also adopted Gum Arabic as a carrier at 10 mg/kg.

In addition, the commission adopted the use of eight food colours in food supplements. These include:

  • Allura Red AC
  • Caramel Colour-Class IV
  • Carotenoids
  • Chlorophylls-Copper Complexes
  • Fast Green FCF
  • Grape Skin Extracts
  • Indigotine
  • Iron Oxides

Essentially, this means that the safety of these colours was scientifically substantiated and their use in supplements considered safe.

According to IADSA, this decision “will avoid potential confusion in many countries and unnecessary barriers to trade”.

However, all the provisions related to Erythrosine for all food categories including food supplements were returned to step 6 for further discussion by the Codex Additives Committee at its next session in March next year, as proposed by the EU and China, said a spokesperson for IADSA who was present at the Codex meeting.

“It was agreed that Joint FAO/WHO expert Committee of Food Additives will re-evaluate this colour and do another exposure assessment and update the exposure level using data to be provided by Codex member countries,”​ they told

Fibre definition

Finally, Codex adopted a provision on fibre, which provides a definition and table of conditions of dietary fibre. This distinguishes three main categories of carbohydrate polymers, refers to monomeric units and leaves the decision on whether to include carbohydrates with monomeric units from 3 to 9 to national authorities.

Apart from the definition itself, the guidelines for the use of nutrition claims provide conditions on “source of dietary fibre” claim as well as on “high dietary fibre”.

The fibre definition has been long-awaited by industry, which has struggled with varying definitions and interpretations. In the coming days, NutraIngredients will bring you more on the specifics of this new definition.

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