Swiss government proposes Codex fish oil standards

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Codex alimentarius

The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) is attending a meeting next week to discuss Swiss government proposals to include marine oils in international Codex guidelines on food supplement standards.

Editor's note: This article has been updated from the original which stated that the Swedish government is proposing fish oil standards. This news item relates to Switzerland.

David Pineda, head of regulatory affairs, IADSA, told “Use of fish oils has obviously increased worldwide, and we see Omega 3s, for instance, everywhere, in things like milk and cookies, and obviously supplements.”

“IADSA will be attending a Codex​ [Codex Alimentarius Commission] committee on fats and oils next week to discuss a Swiss government proposal to develop a global standard for fish and algal oils. Talks will involve the potential scope of such a measure, and the methods used to identify different fish oils.”

Nutrient Reference Values review

Food additives remain IADSA’s focus on a global level, with the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) due to meet in March to consider the adoption of draft provisions for food additives used in supplements worldwide.

Although the CCFA’s guidelines are not legally binding, they are hugely influential amongst numerous member governments, who voluntarily undertake to consider them when drafting national regulations on food manufacturing standards and safety.

Pineda said IADSA had enlisted support from Codex member countries for a proposal that the World Health Organisation (WHO) submit scientific evidence on 28 nutrients (both already due for assessment under the CCFA’s proposed review of Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) under its ‘Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling’.

“Discussions will involve revising vitamin and mineral NRVs to update existing valueswhich are currently drawn-up from 1990s data,”​ as well as considering other nutrients such as marine oils, said Pineda.

Revised guidelines would have a “big impact internationally”​, he added, where IADSA encouraging governments to use similar values drawn from (voluntary) Codex code to provide consistent labelling worldwide and product nutrition claims.

Potential in developing world

Pineda said IADSA’s 2011 plans include more work with industry and regulators in key emerging markets such as Russian, Eastern Europe and China: “Russia is a huge potential ​[supplement] market, there are no words for China and elsewhere, in ASEAN, we are talking 500m-plus inhabitants.”

“When regulations are improved in different countries – and common challenges include defining maximum use levels for products, harmonising labelling, use of claims, this opens up opportunities, not only for nations to export, but also to import supplements from elsewhere.”

Nonetheless, where IADSA plans to continue its work in Latin America, Pineda said the region was “a growing market, but on a regulatory level it’s still very fragmented, with no supplement harmonisation as yet. It’s a big challenge.”

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