Industry group welcomes standards to tackle sports nutrition doping

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

SNE welcomes standards in tackling sports nutrition doping

Related tags: SNE, Sports nutrition, doping

An industry group has approved the publication of the first European wide standard to tackle doping in sports nutrition and food supplements, calling it a ‘stepping stone’ in improving consumer information.

Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) also welcomed the standard​’s acknowledgment of athletes and sportspeople’s nutritional needs with the inclusion of a definition for these specific foods.

“SNE has been calling for the establishment of such a definition in the EU legislation for many years,”​ says Aurelie Perrichet, SNE’s Executive Director.

“We hope this will serve as a reference in upcoming EU discussions to ensure the safe use of sports nutrition and improve consumer's information.”

“This is a stepping stone to improve consumer’s information on doping in sports nutrition, delivering across Europe a common information for sports nutrition products complying with this new European Committee for Standardization (CEN) standard."

The voluntary standard looks to establish development and manufacturing best practices to prevent the presence of substances in sports nutrition and food supplements prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

These practices cover procedures to ensure the effective selection of ingredients, their suppliers and commitments for ingredient supplies and traceability systems.

Best practice recommendations also go as far as to scrutinise the competence of personnel, the design of premises and production tools, document control, product composition and/or formulation of products and the management system of nonconformities amongst others.

Foods for sportspeople

In regard to the proposed definition of foods intended for sportspeople, the standard defines the term as, “all food products which target sportspeople, irrespective of the EU legislation under which they are placed on the market (…).

“They are designed to optimise gains from training, enhance recovery within and between workouts and events, achieve and maintain an ideal body weight and composition.

“The labelling of food intended for sportspeople is clear in explaining the right conditions for product consumption.

“They particularly include products bearing authorized health claims that are related to sport and physical activity according to articles 13.1 and 13.5 of Regulation (EC) n°1924/2006 (…). Food intended for sportspeople includes sports drinks.”

CEN, a Brussels-based organisation that promotes the development, maintenance and distribution of coherent sets of standards and specifications in Europe said, “This new standard will harmonise the development and manufacturing practices to guarantee safe European sports nutrition and a safe food supplements market and provide consumers with the ability to identify products that comply with the standard, through relevant labelling information.

“The publication of this first-ever European standard on doping is a key milestone to improve consumer’s information on doping in sports nutrition across Europe and respond to athletes’ demand for reliable nutritional products.”

ESSNA comments

Responding to CEN's publication, the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) thought the standard could have the potential to be a good example of best practice in manufacturing.

However, the organisation thought the standard, “does not provide sufficient guarantees to adequately protect consumers, athletes and businesses.

“In particular, the standard has the potential to be misleading should it be perceived by athletes and sportspeople alike as providing reassurance that products that abide by the standard are doping-free,” ​they continued in a statement.

ESSNA added that the standard, albeit only voluntary, risked setting the bar low by not directly encouraging the industry to undergo batch-to-batch testing, which was the only way to provide some reassurance.

They recommended that additional batch to batch testing was carried out, in line with the views of anti-doping agencies.

“ESSNA also regrets that the scope of the standard is limited to only food intended for sportspeople and food supplements, calling the standard’s limited scope to sports foods as ‘inappropriate and impractical,’ in light of the growing number of mainstream products targeting the physically active.”

“As a final point, ESSNA would like to stress that the development of this standard, albeit entirely voluntary and not setting any legally binding provisions in any way, should have been adopted in consultation with a broader number of stakeholders, to allow those in the anti-doping world to share their expertise and raise any concerns from the practical implementation of the standard, including any risks to athletes.”

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