You are here:

Work on international standards for infant nutrition and on guidelines for food supplements well on the way

38/2001, 04.12.2001

Participants from 49 member countries came together for the 23rd meeting of the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

The nutrition of infants and small children was the main theme at the 23rd meeting of the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Around 210 government representatives, observers and experts from 49 member states and 25 international organisations (including 22 NGOs) attended the meeting. Furthermore, representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO and the World Health Organisation WHO were invited as observers.

Based on new findings, standards for processed cereal-based foods for infants and small children and for infant formula were revised. Moreover, a draft guideline for vitamin and mineral supplements (food supplements) was discussed as were questions of food labelling and the related advertising claims about roughage and energy values.

The strategy paper (WHA 54.2.2001) formulated at this year's meeting of the World Health Assembly proved particularly useful as a basis for discussion. It recommends that, if at all possible, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and only after that should a good mixture of additional food be given. A consensus could thus be reached when revising the standards for infant formula and processed cereal-based foods on some points, which had previously been the subject of controversy, to do with scope and definitions. In order to accelerate the work on the standards, various working groups were set up which are to prepare composition options for the next meeting.

The growing use of vitamins and/or mineral supplements which are sold in capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form to compensate for potential nutrient deficiencies are a special challenge for national and international consumer protection. This prompts the need for guidelines within Codex Alimentarius to protect the population from excessive intake of these nutrients and from misleading claims. These guidelines should be the basis for national statutory provisions. Views differed as to the methods which should be used to lay down maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in supplements. This means that the work on this guideline must be continued after further consultation with experts next year.

The primary objective of the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses is to elaborate or revise scientifically validated international standards and guidelines for the production and marketing of special foods to ensure that these products comply with the principles of international consumer health protection. Codex standards and guidelines are rated highly in dispute settlement proceedings within the framework of the world trade order. This stresses the importance of this Committee's work.

Standards and guidelines are drawn up according to a fixed, eight-phase procedure. The elaboration of a global Codex standard must be approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The draft revisions are sent to all members of the Commission and interested national organisations on each level for examination and amendment. Only after conclusion of the eight phases is a Codex standard published. Standards contain detailed provisions on composition and/or labelling; guidelines, by contrast, stipulate the procedures to be adopted in order to draw up rules on the national level.

Once it has been published, the final report of the meeting can be accessed on the homepage of the Codex Alimentarius Commission on Furthermore, on the BgVV homepage ( under "Internationals/Codex" extensive information is provided on the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses as well as the report of the 23rd meeting of the Committee in German.


Cookie Notice

This site only uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies in our Data Protection Declaration.