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Speak Your Mind On Supplement Regulation
10 June 2002
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor

Consumers now have two opportunities to express opinions about how supplements should be regulated, both in the US and internationally. Since international Codex regulations might become binding for the US, it is crucial that consumers communicate with the government about what the US policy should be.

Codex regulations may become "the law of the land" for the US because they fall under the umbrella of the GATT treaty. The US became a GATT signatory member in 1994. The World Trade Organization (WTO) adjudicates disputes among members and has overall jurisdiction in such matters.

Codex was created in 1962 by two UN organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Codex seeks to ensure that the world's food supply is sound, wholesome, free from adulteration, and correctly labeled. Codex regulations are intended both to encourage fair international trade in food and to protect the health and economic interests of consumers.

In practice, however, these dual goals of easing commercial transactions for businesses and meeting the needs of consumers are not always harmonious. In politics as in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease: it is vital for consumers to speak up and be heard.

The Codex Committee on Nutrition And Foods for Special Dietary Uses (which includes supplements) is meeting this November in Berlin, Germany. Three US agencies (FDA, USDA, and HSIS) are sponsoring a public meeting -- both to provide information and to gather input for US Codex policy -- on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 from 1-4 pm in Washington DC.

To attend the meeting, pre-register by July 15: Send your name, organization, mailing address, phone number and email address to ncrane@cfsan.fda.gov. People who cannot attend but wish to convey their opinions can email their comments to ncrane@cfsan.fda.gov, or send written comments to:

FSIS Docket Clerk
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Room 102
Cotton Annex
Washington DC 20250-3700

Please state that your comments refer to Codex and, if your comments relate to specific Codex committees, please identify those committees in your comments and submit a copy of your comments to the delegate from that particular committee. All comments submitted will be available for public inspection in the Docket Clerk's Office between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

The Federal Register notice concerning the November Codex meeting is available at www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a020530c.html. Scroll down to Food Safety and Inspection Service. Among the items listed there are text and pdf versions of "Meetings: Codex Alimentarius Commission -- Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses Codex Committee, 37772-37773 [02-13526]".

Information is also available on the US Food Safety and Inspection Service website: www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/Codex/.

Also, as SupplementQuality.com reported last week, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking comments about its approach to health claims for foods, drugs, and dietary supplements.


US Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 104, Thursday, May 30, 2002.

US Food and Drug Administration.

US Food Safety and Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/Codex/.end-of-story




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