ACNFP minutes: 26 January 2005

Minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2005 in Conference Room 5, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London.

Present

Chairman:
Professor Mike Gasson

Members:
Miss Jill Brand
Professor Ruth Chadwick
Dr Hilary Close
Mr Neville Craddock
Professor Jim Dunwell
Dr Peter Lund
Professor Alan Malcolm
Dr Clive Meredith
Professor Ian Rowland

FSA Assessor:
Dr Clair Baynton

Secretariat:
Dr Sandy Lawrie - Secretary
Mr Colin Ross - Minutes
Ms Michelle Gardner
Ms Kate Halliwell
Dr James Ridsdale
Dr David Jefferies
Ms Annie-Laure Robin

Observers:
Dr Trudy Netherwood (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
Apologies were received from John Fowler, Tony Williams, and Gary Foster. Written comments submitted by these Members were tabled at the meeting. Apologies were also received from observers from FSA Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Mrs Elspeth MacDonald, Mr Phil Morgan, and Mr Gerry McCurdy).

Following the retirement of Phil Dale and John Warner, the Chairman informed the Committee that the Agency had appointed two new members to the Committee:

  • Stephen Holgate, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at Southampton University
  • Peter Shewry, Associate Director of Rothamstead Research, where he is Head of the Crop Performance and Improvement Division

Unfortunately both Members were unable to attend the meeting.

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 69th meeting
DRAFT/ACNFP/69/MIN

Subject to one minor textual correction, Members agreed that the minutes were a true record of the 69th meeting of the ACNFP held on 25 November 2004.

3. Matters Arising
3.1 Postal consultation on High Amylopectin GM potato clone EH92-527-1: ACNFP/70P/7

Members had been invited to provide written comments on additional information provided by the applicant in relation to this application under the Deliberate Release Directive 2001/18/EC in early January 2005. EH92-527-1 potatoes are intended for use in industrial starch production rather than for food use. The Committee was asked if the information provided by the applicant provided satisfactory answers to the issues raised when the dossier was first considered in May 2004.

Several Members responded to this consultation indicating that they were satisfied that the data provided on the structure of the inserted DNA and its location in the potato genome were of a good quality and supported the applicant's conclusions. The monitoring and safeguard systems described by the applicant in relation to the possible contamination of the human food chain were also satisfactory. The Food Standards Agency had therefore replied to Defra, the competent authority for directive 2001/18/EC, explaining that the Committee's concerns had now been addressed and noting the applicant's intention to submit a parallel application for this potato clone under the GM food and feed Regulation (EC) 1829/2003.

4. Isomaltulose: ACNFP/70/2
The Committee was asked to consider the German Competent Authority's initial opinion on an application submitted by Südzucker under 258/97 to market the novel sugar isomaltulose for use as a food ingredient.

Prior to discussion of this item Professor Rowland declared a non-personal, non-specific personal interest and informed the Committee that his department carries out unrelated research on behalf of Cargill, whose subsidiary had submitted an application for approval of isomaltulose in 2004. The Chairman concluded that he should remain.

Members indicated that they agreed with the German safety assessment and noted that the product described in the application was very similar to one that had been assessed by the Committee in 2004. However, the Committee drew attention to the fact that the range of proposed products containing isomaltulose intended for the market by the applicant was wider than in the first application. Members therefore emphasised their previous concern that the use of isomaltulose could result in an overall increase in energy intake due to misinterpretation of any claims made for reduced sweetness or delayed energy release. In view of the above, the Committee considered the proposed labelling of the product to be insufficient and noted that the applicant should be reminded of the need to comply with labelling legislation and ensure that the product does not mislead the consumer, particularly in relation to its energy content.

The Committee further noted that the application dossier implies a role for isomaltulose in low glycaemic index (GI) diets in the dietary management of diabetes. Members observed that it is generally desirable for diabetic diets to have a low GI but that foods with a high GI are used in some situations to counter hypoglycaemia. The Committee therefore considered that substituting isomaltulose for sucrose might mislead diabetic consumers in this context, unless they are made aware of the implications of this substitution.

The Agency, as the UK Competent Authority, will send a formal reply to the Commission highlighting the points raised by the Committee.

5. Fruit juices (inc. tomato juice) and nectars with added phytosterols: ACNFP/70/3
At its November 2004 meeting the Committee considered an application from Coca Cola Services s.a., for the authorisation of fruit juices and fruit nectars with added phytosterols as novel foods. Members raised a number of questions and requested further information from the applicant. The applicant had provided additional information to address the questions of the Committee and the Secretariat had drafted an initial opinion for Members' consideration.

Prior to discussion of this item Professor Rowland declared a non-personal, non-specific personal interest and informed the Committee that his department carries out unrelated research on behalf of Cargill, the company that manufactures the phytosterol ingredient. The Chairman concluded that he should remain.

The Committee was satisfied with the applicant's response concerning the addition of phytosterols as micro-sized particles and the way that the product would be marketed. Although this would reduce the possibility of accidental consumption by non-target groups, the Committee remained concerned about this issue.

The Secretariat agreed to redraft the relevant paragraphs of the initial opinion and circulate the document for Members' comments, following which the opinion will be issued for public consultation.

6. Lycopene oleoresin from tomatoes: ACNFP/70/11
At its November 2004 meeting the Committee considered an application from Lycored for an opinion on oleoresin derived from lycopene-rich tomatoes to be used in a range of foodstuffs, including bread, juices and dairy products. Members raised a number of questions and requested further information from the applicant. The applicant had provided additional information to address the questions of the Committee.

The Committee was content with the applicant's additional data on previous human exposure to the oleoresin and was satisfied that the applicant had confirmed the absence of tomatine in the oleoresin. However, Members remained concerned that the nutritional benefits provided by the addition of the oleoresin to foodstuffs such as ice cream, cakes or biscuits, would be compromised by the presence of sugar and fats in such products. The Committee also drew attention to the possible over-consumption of the oleoresin by children as a result of its presence in these products.

The Committee asked the Secretariat to seek advice from a specialist in animal pathology on the significance of the increased lung weights of female rats in the semi-chronic toxicity study.

Additionally, Members indicated that the gel chromatograph used to investigate the level of protein in the oleoresin was of poor quality and requested further analysis.

The Committee had no comments on the remainder of the applicant�s responses, which would be considered further in the context of the original dossier.

The Secretariat agreed to contact the applicant and a relevant specialist to request further information on the points raised above.

7. Nanoparticles in Food: ACNFP/70/4
Concerns regarding the use of nanoparticles in food were raised from the floor at the ACNFP open meeting on 24 November 2004 and Members noted that this issue should be included on the agenda for a future meeting. The Committee was therefore asked to comment on relevant issues related to nanoparticles in food and identify aspects that may require further discussion.

The Committee agreed that the use of nanoparticles in food was an issue of increasing public interest that would require further consideration and emphasised the importance of developing a dialogue on the subject. Members also indicated that the Committee might require input from additional experts if it is to examine this area in depth.

The Committee agreed to examine this issue further following the publication of the Government response to the July 2004 Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering (RS/RAE) report on nanoscience and nanotechnologies.

8. GM Food safety assessment: ACNFP/70/5
The Committee was invited to comment on points raised in a letter received after the November 2004 ACNFP open meeting, concerning the basis for assessing the safety of foods derived from genetically modified (GM) sources.

The letter raised a number of questions concerning research into the safety of foods derived from GM sources using feeding trials on animals and humans. The Committee stated that feeding trials represent an important tool in certain specific circumstances but confirmed that there is no scientific justification for insisting that all novel (including GM) foods should be subject to routine feeding trials.

The Chairman indicated that he would reply to the letter on behalf of the Committee.

9. ACNFP Annual Report: ACNFP/70/6
Members had been provided with a draft copy of the 2004 ACNFP Annual Report and were asked to provide substantive comments at the meeting. The Committee confirmed that no significant changes were required and agreed to forward minor drafting points to the Secretariat in writing.

The Secretariat informed the Committee that the Annual Report would be cleared by Chairman's action following the receipt of Members' comments.

10. Any Other Business
There was no further business.

11. Items for Information
11.1 EU Update: ACNFP/70/8
This paper provided an update on novel food applications under (EC) 258/97 and details of recent meetings of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Panels.

11.2 Update on substantial equivalence: ACNFP/70/9
This paper provided members with information on a series of notifications received via the European Commission for noni juice and phytosterols to be marketed in the EU.

11.3 ACNFP open meeting feedback: ACNFP/70/10
Following the ACNFP open meeting on 24 November 2004 the Secretariat circulated an evaluation form to the 33 attendees. This paper provided members with information on the responses that had been received.

12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Wednesday 30 March 2005, in Aviation House.