ACNFP Meeting minutes 14 March 2001

Minutes of the 49th ACNFP meeting, 14 March 2001.

ACNFP Secretariat
Room 239c
Ergon House
c/o 17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3WG

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Fax: (0)20 7238 6382

ACNFP/49/MIN

MINUTES OF THE FORTY-NINTH MEETING OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON NOVEL FOODS AND PROCESSES, HELD 14 MARCH 2001 AT ERGON HOUSE, LONDON

Present
Professor J Bainbridge - Chairman
Professor M Gasson
Dr J Herritage
Professor I Rowland
Mrs E Russell
Professor T Sanders
Professor H Sewell
Dr N Simmons
Professor J Warner
Professor F Woods
FSA Assessor Mr N Tomlinson
Mr C Egner (FSA Scotland)

Secretariat
Mrs S Hattersley
Dr C Baynton
Dr J Cockram
Dr C Jones
Miss R Dadswell
Mr M Boden
Mr N Ball
Mr A Hardgrave - Minutes
Also present
Dr J Shavila (CST - FSA)
Ms L Jackson (MSN - FSA)

Members are required to declare any personal interest in matters under discussion. Where members have a particularly close association with any item, the Chairman will limit their involvement in the discussion. In cases where an item is to be discussed in their absence, a Member may make a statement before leaving.

1. Apologies and Announcements

1.1 Apologies were received from Rev Professor M Reiss, Professor P Dale, Mr G McCurdy (FSA NI) and Mrs J Whinney (FSA Wales).

1.2 The Committee welcomed Mr Nicolas Ball and Mr Mark Boden new members of the ACNFP Secretariat.

1.3 The Committee welcomed Dr Joe Shavila from the Chemical Safety and Toxicology Department of the Food Standards Agency, who was present to take enquires resulting from the toxicology studies for item 4 - DHA Gold.

1.4 The Secretariat updated the Committee on the progress with the appointment of 3 new members to the ACNFP.

1.5 The Chairman reminded Members of the need to announce any commercial interests in the business of the Committee, prior to the discussions on each item.

2. Minutes of the Forty-eighth meeting ACNFP/48/MIN

The Committee agreed that subject to a few minor typographical changes the minutes were a true record of the 48th meeting held on 25 January 2001.

3. Matters Arising

3.1 ACNFP Annual Report Oral update

The Committee was informed that following the last meeting of the ACNFP, that the annual report had been finalised and cleared by the Chair prior to being submitted for printing.

It is expected that the report will be published in the week beginning 23rd April 2001.

At the last meeting Members had expressed an interest in launching the report by way of a press conference. Following advice from the Communications Division of the FSA it has been decided that a press conference is not practicable, however the Chair will be available to answer press enquires on the launch date.

3.2 Phytosterol Esters Oral update

The Committee was informed that concerns had been raised by certain Member States concerning the Valio application for phytosterols, considered by the ACNFP in its last meeting (48th meeting of the ACNFP on 25 January 2001). The application will now go to the EC Scientific Committee for Food.

The Secretariat noted that the Finnish Competent Authority had received an application for phytosterols and that the dossier for this application would be provided when it arrives. Members were also notified that another phytosterol application is due to be submitted to the Belgian Competent Authority in the next week or so, if this application is submitted the Committee will be given the opportunity to discuss it at its next meeting on 17 May 2001.

Finally the Committee were informed that Unilever has asked for an extension of their current approval for phytosterols in yellow fat spreads. Unilever hope to submit post launch monitoring data to the Committee in the late summer.

Phytosterols were discussed at the Competent Authorities meeting and a number of Member States raised concerns regarding possible over consumption as phytosterols are added to more and more foods.

Members noted that the generic issues associated with phytosterol applications, such as the question of possible over consumption, could be a good topic for their planned open meeting later this year.

4. DHA GOLD ACNFP/49/1

The UK Competent Authority received an application dossier from OmegaTech for DHA Gold¿ , a DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) -rich oil, on 13th February 2001. A copy of the application dossier was placed on the website on the same day for public comment. DHA Gold¿ , oil is derived from a golden microalga from the genus Schizochytrium sp.

Members were asked whether they were content to recommend approval of DHA Gold¿ as a novel food ingredient.

Members noted that the material submitted as part of the application dossier contained data on consumption drawing parallels with other foods, rather than human consumption data for this product. They also noted that the toxicology studies had been carried out on the freeze-dried algae and not on the oil itself. Furthermore Members felt that the dossier had not really addressed the issues of oil quality (oxidation) and labelling of the final product.

Finally it was noted that a general statement had been made that consumption of the oil boosts the immune system, however no data had been provided to qualify this claim.

The Secretariat agreed to contact the company seeking further clarification on the toxicology studies and will produce the draft UK initial opinion based on the paper presented at this meeting and Members comments. A revised version will then be placed on the ACNFP website for public comment and a final version cleared by Chairman's action.

The Final opinion will be forwarded to the Commission by 14th May 2001.

Further to receiving the additional information requested at the 49th meeting, which was considered by post, an interim initial opinion was forwarded to the Commission on 24th May 2001.

5. Virgin Prune oil ACNFP/49/2

The French Competent Authority evaluated a notification from Vidalou Farm to place virgin prune kernel oil on the market, and gave a favourable opinion. The ACNFP were asked to comment on this notification.

When the ACNFP previously considered information regarding passion fruit, cherry and apricot kernel oils, the predominant concern was the possible presence of hydrocyanic acid, which breaks down to form cyanide, in the final oil. The information provided in the notification indicated that the levels of this compound in the resultant product falls within the limits set by substantially equivalent oils currently on the market.

Members had no major concerns regarding this application as long as the prune kernels were monitored and aflatoxin levels remained within safe limits, they also requested that the oil be labelled as being derived from prunes in order that those consumers with an allergy to prunes could avoid this product.

The Secretariat agreed to write to the European Commission with the Committees views, and a copy of this letter was also forwarded to the French Competent Authority.

6. Coagulated Potato Protein ACNFP/49/3

The UK Competent Authority received the Netherlands Competent Authorities opinion on a dossier for Coagulated potato proteins and hydrolysates thereof.

The coagulated potato protein has been isolated from conventional (non-GM) potatoes. It was also hydrolysed to produce additional potato products (hydrolysed potato products). These products will be used as food ingredients by the food processing industry (and not supplied directly to the consumer) in a variety of applications, for example in salad dressings, bakery, confectionery and gluten-free foods.

Members were asked to comment on the Netherlands Initial Opinion and company dossier and highlight any possible key areas of concern.

Members noted that the dossier did not contain any data on allergenicity, it is well documented that potato allergy is associated with latex allergy and the Committee requested data be provided from relevant tests. The dossier also gave no indication of the removal of the enzymes involved in the production of the hydrolysates, enzymes can be allergenic and more clarification of their removal would be required.

The Committee discussed the levels of sulphide present in the final products and noted that these products and the products containing them should be labelled in order that those consumers that are sulphur sensitive could avoid them.

The Committee requested the Secretariat seek further clarification from the company on these issues.

7. High Pressure Processing - Potential applications

ACNFP/49/4 & ACNFP/49/5

The Secretariat received two separate requests for an opinion in accordance with Article 5 of (EC) 258/97 for a range of high pressure treated fruit based products. As both of these applications were similar the Committee considered them side-by-side.

The first application ACNFP/49/4 was received from ATA SpA Foods of Italy and involved fruit based products, namely salads, purees, smoothies and juices, processed with high pressure. The second application ACNFP/49/5 was received from Orchard House foods and was for fruit based products, namely lemonades, fruit crushes, and smoothies processed with high pressure.

Both companies requested the scientific opinion of the UK Competent Authority indicating that with the exception of increasing the shelf life, the process has no effect on the nutritional and organoloeptic qualities of the products, when compared to similar untreated counterparts.

Members noted that the applications made no reference to bacterial kill for vegetative bacteria and spores, also variables such as pH (Acid in fruit) which would have an effect on bacterial survival were not defined in the applications. Members also noted that no reference was made to allergenicity, they therefore felt it impossible to ascertain if the products were substantially equivalent to their unprocessed counterparts.

The Committee agreed that as more applications are in the pipeline for High Pressure Processing, including one for treated shellfish, the Committee should meet with members of the Advisory Committee on Microbial Safety in Food (ACMSF) to look at the generic issues relating to this process and to produce guidelines for the assessment of such applications, including criteria for bacterial kill, and testing.

8. Items for information

8.1 Updates on previous applications. Oral update

Members were updated on the progress of previous applications:

Salatrim and Cereal fractions: were referred to the SCF reformulating working group.

Radicchio rosso and Green Hearted Chicory: The SCF requested more data in order to make a decision and it looks as though the application may be withdrawn.

High Pressure Processing - Danone: a draft discussion paper is in the pipeline for referral to the Standing Committee for Foodstuffs.

Round up ready Sugar beet - Novartis/Monsanto: This application is with the Netherlands Competent Authority and their initial opinion should be published shortly.

Trehalose: some Member States raised objections, in particular over labelling. France had concerns over the enzymes used and Italy raised concerns over trehalase deficiency. Dr Barr the applicant gave a presentation to the Competent Authorities at their recent meeting and it is hoped that most of the concerns can be addressed at the Competent Authority Working group.

9. Any other business.

9.1Assessment of the current status of scientific evidence on food and crop safety and Biodiversity.

Members were thanked for the comments they provided on this paper and were informed that their comments had been passed to OST who will publish the paper in due course.

9.2 Feedback on Dinner with Sir John.

The Chair attended a dinner with Sir John Krebs, along with the Chairs of the other Advisory Committees. The Chair reported that this was a very pleasant evening and afforded an ideal opportunity to meet the Chairs of the other committees and members of the FSA Board.

9.3 FAO/WHO paper on Allergenicity

Members were provided with a copy of this paper for information and agreed that this was a very useful piece of work.

9.4 Guarana Chocolate

Members were provided a copy of a letter from the FAC Secretariat to NMP Limited regarding Guarana Chocolate. Members noted that due to the high levels of caffeine that this product would not be suitable for children.

The Secretariat explained that the letter was issued purely for information but agreed that they would pass the Committees comments to the FAC Secretariat.

9.5 Royal Society paper

The Royal Society is undertaking a review of the benefits and risks of using GM plants in food, following its paper entitled ‘GM plants for food use’ published in September 1998.

The ACNFP is co-operating with this review and the Chair has provided written and oral evidence on behalf of the Committee, this evidence has been published on the Royal Society website at: www.Royalsoc.ac.uk/policy/.

The Royal Society’s report will be published in due course.

10. Dates of next meeting

The next meeting is due to be held on 17 May 2001 and will be held in the new FSA building Aviation House.