It’s been a big week for regulation as the European Commission (EC) issued a draft recommendation to police websites offering novel foods or supplements online. The Coordinated Control Plan on the internet sale of food (CCCP-efood) calls on authorities in Member States to govern websites selling novel food or food supplements. There’s been plenty of noise around the fact physical retailers and manufacturers must comply with legislation governing their businesses while internet sellers benefit from a lack of enforcement. For now, Member State participation is voluntary but compliance is likely and this should see a level playing field established between online and physical retailers.
Currently, four unauthorised novel foods with established health or conservation concerns have been identified and are under scrutiny: agmatine (4-aminobutyl) guanidine sulphate, Acacia rigidula, Epimedium grandiflorum and Hoodia gordonii.
Italy has notified the EC of its intention to bring the BELFRIT list, consolidated with Italy’s own list of botanical legislation, into European law. Following the freeze on health claim authorisations by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Belgium, France and Italy combined forces to harmonise the legislation on botanicals in food supplements and produced the BELFRIT list. Belgium published its decree in February 2017. The Italian consolidated list contains some differences from the BELFRIT list and has not included upper limits for active ingredients, unlike the Belgian list. Some compositional requirements differ from in France and Belgium and manufacturers should still consult each list individually to ensure compliance.
Manufacturers need also be aware EFSA has set a safe level for glutamate food additives and is urging the EC to revise the maximum levels for six food additives—glutamic acid (E 620), sodium glutamate (E 621), potassium glutamate (E 625), calcium glutamate (E 623), ammonium glutamate (E 624) and magnesium glutamate (E 625). The safe level of 30 mg per kilo of body weight is based on the highest dose at which no adverse effect on test animals was observed.
Experts from the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) have updated the definition of ‘prebiotic’—now meaning ‘a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit’. This updated definition is intended to ‘reduce misinformation and confusion among consumers and provide common terminology and scope for future research’.
Rapidly becoming my 2017 superfood, coffee has hit the nutraceutical industry headlines this week as studies suggest coffee consumption could ‘contribute to the prevention’ of age-related diseases and could even ward off ‘death and disease’. The first, conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, found increased locomotor activity and energy expenditure, ‘improved insulin resistance’ and ‘enhanced grip strength of skeletal muscles’ in mice who consumed caffeinated coffee. Both the caffeinated and uncaffeinated mice saw increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in the liver, which is associated with anti-ageing. The second study, using data collected from 10 European countries, found three or more cups of coffee a day may reduce risk of death by between 8 percent and 18 percent from circulatory and digestive-related conditions. Conversely, a higher intake correlated to a higher cancer mortality for women so three cups is the safe spot for optimal coffee intake.