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36th Session, summary

Outcome of the 36th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses

The 36th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses - CCNFSDU) was held in Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali from 24 to 28 November 2014 and chaired by Dr. Pia Noble (German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture) and Prof. Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi (Professor of Food Process Engineering, Bogor Agriculture University and Director of Southeast Asian Food and Agricultural Science and Technology Centre) as co-chair under the co-hosting programme.

Around 300 delegates and observers from 54 member states, one member organisation (European Union) and 25 international organisations attended the meeting that was opened with welcoming addresses delivered by Mr. Bernhard Kühnle (Director-General for Food Safety and Animal Health at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture) and Dr. Roy A. Sparringa (Chairman of the National Agency for Food and Drug Control, Republic of Indonesia).

The meeting essentially had the following results:

The Committee held a final debate on the revision of the general principles for adding essential nutrients to foodstuffs. The principles that are addressed to the legislators of the Codex Alimentarius member states determine the purposes for which and amounts in which essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals may be added to foods. An agreement was reached on all unresolved questions and the Committee therefore decided to propose the draft of the principles to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) for adoption at step 8.

An agreement was also reached on fixing a reference value for potassium regarding diet-related illnesses (NRV-NCD). Following a proposal made by the electronic working group, the Committee decided to propose to the CAC the adoption of a potassium NRV-NCD of 3,500 mg / day. The Committee also agreed on recommending to the CAC the development of an NRV-NCD for omega-3 fatty acids as new work.

The fixing of nutrient reference values - NRVs for vitamins and minerals for labelling purposes also featured on the agenda of the 36th meeting of CCNFSDU. The Committee accepted the references values for vitamin C, zinc, selenium, molybdenum and manganese proposed by the electronic working group headed by Australia. The Committee also followed the recommendation not to set any reference value for fluoride. The mandate of the electronic working group was extended with the tasks being modified.

The Working Group was commissioned to draw up proposals for NRVs for vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, copper and chloride on the basis of the latest scientific findings.

In addition to the above-mentioned topics, the discussion on a full review of the existing Standard for Follow-up Formula from 1987 also figured prominently. After a lengthy discussion, the Committee decided to establish an electronic working group chaired by New Zealand, France and Indonesia. On the basis of the already formulated extensive statement on the nutrient requirements of older infants and young children, taking into account the latest scientific findings, the Working Group is to draw up compositional criteria for follow-up food. The findings of the electronic working group are to be discussed in greater detail by a physical working group prior to the session next year.

Another subject of discussion was the indirect fortification of foods with essential nutrients, e.g. through plant breeding (biofortification), on the basis of a discussion paper prepared by Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Committee agreed on suggesting to CAC to accept the issue of biofortification as new work and to formulate definitions first of all. The CCNFSDU decided to establish an electronic working group chaired by Zimbabwe and South Africa and charge it with presenting relevant proposals for the next session.

At the 37th meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) presented a proposal for the development of a Codex standard for specific foodstuffs intended for feeding acutely malnourished children. The CAC commissioned the CCNFSDU to discuss the proposal on the basis of a discussion paper formulated by UNICEF. After an in-depth discussion, the Committee agreed on postponing the decision on beginning such work pending the completion of the review on the effectiveness of the foods concerned that is currently conducted by the WHO. UNICEF was asked to prepare a revised draft project document for the next meeting of CCNFSDU with regard to the points addressed in the discussion and with support provided by Senegal.

Given that no progress was made on the work on special complementary food products for underweight infants and young children, that has been under way for some years now, the Committee decided to propose to the CAC to cease work on this draft.

The deliberations on the conditions for the nutrient claim "free from trans-fatty acids" were postponed to the next session in order to await the opinion delivered by the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) on a suitable method of analysis and of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG) on the nutritional-medical assessment.

The 37th session of CCNFSDU will be held in Bad Soden am Taunus on 23 to 27 November 2015.