As reported previously by our USA edition, the International Probiotics Association introduced a proposal at the 39th session of the of the CCNFSDU (Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses) meeting in Berlin on December 6th, 2017 towards harmonizing probiotic guidelines for use in foods and dietary supplements.
Argentina committed to leading the work and subsequently prepared a discussion paper. However, during the recent meeting in Berlin on November 26, 2018, the discussion paper was described as lacking “clarity”. Despite this, the committee agreed that the country “redraft the discussion paper for consideration at its next session elaborating further on the sections on scope, definition as well as health and trade concerns in particular”.
During the Berlin meeting multiple delegations voiced their support, and noted that, “harmonized global guidelines would benefit the Codex community in light of the significant increase in global trade of probiotics for use in foods in foods and dietary supplements in recent years and would assist national authorities in evaluating foods/supplements containing probiotics”.
The decision to keep the initiative stays on the agenda for 2019 was welcomed by said George Paraskevakos, IPA’s executive director. If the redrafted document is acceptable then work on the guidelines would start in earnest, he said.
In a recent 2018 review article published on NutraIngredients-USA, Paraskevakos stated: “With an ongoing collaboration already in place with Argentina, my blue sky dream of global guideline harmonization in the probiotic sector took one step forward. The Argentinian working document remained on the agenda for next year, will be revised and IPA will continue to work in tandem with Argentina which is the lead country for this work to be presented at next year’s Codex meeting in Dusseldorf.”
Not everyone was supportive…
In comments to the committee, IPA expressed its thanks to Argentina for its initiative, and noted: “Probiotics are live microorganisms increasingly used in a wide variety of food applications. The term “probiotics” is used more and more in several different products, with few adherence to the commonly referenced FAO/WHO definition. In addition to that, there seems to exist confusion between the identification of probiotics (factual nature/ what probiotics are) and the specific benefits of probiotics (what probiotics do).
“Considering this, the development of harmonized guidelines could be used by the different countries as a reference for minimal criteria for probiotics and will undoubtedly ensure and sustain the quality of probiotic products and facilitate international trade and enable fair and transparent practices.”
However, not all delegations were supportive, with the European Commission and the Russian Federation expressing concerns. The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) also submitted comments against the initiative.