ACNFP Minutes: 22 April 2010

Notes of the meeting of the Committee at 9:30am in Conference Room 5, Aviation House, Kingsway, London


Professor Peter Gregory Chairman
Ms Jayam Dalal
Professor John Mathers
Professor Peter Meyer
Professor Clare Mills
Mrs Gillian Pope
Professor Christopher Ritson
Professor Peter Shewry

Dr Paul Brantom
Professor Mike Bushell
Professor Andrew Chesson
Professor Harry Flint
Dr Paul Haggarty
Professor Stephen Holgate
Mr Kevin Swoffer
Professor John Warner

FSA Assessor
Ms Jane Downes

Ms Azuka Aghadiuno
Ms Alison Asquith –Minutes
Ms Shuhana Begum
Dr Chris Jones
Dr Darren Key
Dr Sandy Lawrie - ACNFP Secretary
Dr Manisha Upadhyay

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
Eight members had sent apologies for non-attendance. Apologies were also received from observers from FSA offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Ms Alison Taylor, Mr. Phil Morgan and Mr. Gerry McCurdy). Written comments from one member were available at the meeting.

The Chairman welcomed the new FSA Assessor, Jane Downes, who had temporarily taken on the role of Head of Chemical Contaminants and Novel Foods Division.

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 96th meeting DRAFT/ACNFP/96/Min
Subject to minor amendments members agreed that the minutes were a true record of the 96th meeting of the ACNFP held on Wednesday 10 February 2010.

3. Matters Arising and Postal Consultations
The Secretariat reported back on matters arising from the 96th meeting:

Item 6 - Phosphate Distarch Phosphate:
The applicant had not yet provided the additional information requested by the Committee

Item 8 - REV-7 Chewing Gum Base:
The Secretariat confirmed that the ACNFP’s expert in toxicology was satisfied with the safety studies which were included in the original dossier. The applicant confirmed they had registered the name of the product as “REV-7”. While this was not very informative, they were planning to design a consumer facing website that would provide information on the novel chewing gum base.

Item 9 – Yeast beta-glucans:
The Secretariat has forwarded the Committee’s comments to the European Commission.

4. Open Workshop Oral Update
The open workshop that had been planned for the previous day had been postponed due to the General Election. See item 9 below.

5. Bee Venom for addition to honey ACNFP/97/1
The Committee was asked to review the text of the draft opinion in the light of responses to a public consultation. The application had previously been discussed by the Committee in September and November 2009 and in February 2010.

The Committee considered in detail the forty seven public comments received during the ten day public consultation and noted that the number of comments received suggested that these people had a strong wish to consume the novel ingredient, and believed that they could be adversely affected if the novel ingredient is not authorised. However, the Committee recognised that its remit was to assess novel ingredients for safety and not to consider pharmacological properties and potential benefits.

A Member observed that the NHS was reported to use Manuka honey in the treatment of patients. The Secretariat confirmed this may possibly be the case but that this did not include the addition of the novel ingredient, bee venom.

In light of a public comment received relating to allergy and the likelihood of bee stings, the Committee agreed an amendment to the draft opinion to highlight published reports of an increase in incidence of allergic reactions to insect bites (in particular bee stings), possibly linked to population susceptibility

The Committee also highlighted that its comment relating to sugar intake was not a reason to reject the novel ingredient, but it wished it to note that the extra sugar content would have a possible effect on dental caries.

The Committee further agreed that the conclusion to the opinion should draw attention to the large number of public responses received during the consultation of its draft opinion.

Action: Secretariat to amend the draft opinion, and to finalise it through the Chair.

6. Magnolia Bark Extract ACNFP/97/2
The Committee initially considered this application in September and November 2009 and in February 2010. At the February meeting the Committee requested that the applicant provide further data from protein analysis using a more precise detection method. The Committee also requested information to help rule out any possibility that components of magnolia bark may have pharmacological effects on gastrointestinal function.

The Committee was satisfied with the applicant’s response relating to gastrointestinal effects. The Committee noted that the applicant had carried out protein analysis of magnolia bark extract using three detection methods but requested that the applicant provide the raw data from these analyses in order to be satisfied that its concern had been adequately addressed.

The Secretariat agreed to circulate the additional protein analysis data to the Committee by post.

Action: Secretariat to request information from the applicant and finalise the draft opinion through the Chair

7. Chia Seed (The Chia Company) ACNFP/97/3
The Committee considered this application for an opinion on substantial equivalence in February 2010, when Members requested additional information on the cultivation conditions and the botanical origins of the Australian chia.

The Committee was satisfied that the applicant had provided sufficient information to adequately address the Committee’s concerns and agreed that substantial equivalence had been established. The Committee agreed with the text of the draft initial opinion subject to minor amendments.

Action: Secretariat to seek Committee clearance for the amended opinion.

8. Principles of Scientific Advice to Government ACNFP 97/4
The Committee considered these Principles, which had been recently published by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

The Committee commended the Board of the Food Standards Agency for its prompt acceptance of the Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice issued by senior scientists and scientific advisers in November 2009.

The Committee noted that the Government’s Principles apply not only to Ministerial appointments (which are regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments), but also to non-Ministerial appointments and other appointments made by relevant organisations, some of which nevertheless follow OCPA guidance as best practice.

A member gave an example of how outcomes can be linked to advice, taken from another public committee that logs the various stages from the request for advice, the production of advice, and the way that this advice was used. As this committee’s advice was sometime used in court, it had adopted a press protocol to avoid court proceedings being compromised.

Members suggested that, in cases where the Government decided not to accept the advice of a scientific advisory committee, the relevant Minister should always meet with the chair, although the document implied that this was optional. The Committee noted that the Agency’s scientific committees operate with a high degree of openness and that committee chairs will attend Board meetings in person where their committee’s advice is being presented and discussed.

9. Open Workshop and Horizon Scanning Meetings Oral Updates
The Committee considered an update on the postponed Open Meeting and the responses of prospective participants to the discussion topics. It agreed to finalise the agenda for the re-arranged meeting later in the year.

The Committee also considered an update on a proposed Horizon Scanning meeting and considered ideas for possible formats and the topics which could be discussed in this meeting. These were:

• Nanotechnology (differentiating between inorganic nanoparticles and “bionanotechnology”)
• Consumers’ use of food labelling information
• Intake Estimation – particularly from multiple sources

The Committee considered the Horizon Scanning Meeting and Open Meeting could both be scheduled along with the November business meeting.

Action: Secretariat to proceed with arranging the Horizon Scanning Meeting and Open workshop on 24 and 25 November 2010

10. Items for information

10.1 Update on Nanotechnology ACNFP/97/5

10.2 Update on Protein Subgroup Oral Update

10.3 EU Update ACNFP/97/7

10.4 Update on Scientific Advisory Committees ACNFP/97/8

10.5 GM Update ACNFP/97/9

The Committee noted that the Secretariat had begun discussions with members of the Protein Subgroup and that a proposal for guidance to novel food applicants was being prepared. The Committee noted the remaining information papers without comment.

11. Any other business
The Chairman gave an update on the General Advisory Committee of Science (GACS) meeting he attended on 4 March, which included a presentation on the Committee on Toxicity’s development of an approach to handling uncertainty

Action: Secretariat to liaise with Committee to identify examples for COT to consider

12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday 7 July 2010 in Aviation House.