FOCUS ON SAFETY OF NOVEL FOODS & INGREDIENTS
4th Asia Pacific International Food Safety Conference &
7th Asian Conference on Food and Nutrition Safety
In 1991, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) organized the inaugural Asian Conference on Food and Nutrition Safety, which was at the time the first major conference to discuss food safety in Asia. Since then, a further six conferences in the series have been held in Thailand (1994), China (2000), Indonesia (2004), Philippines (2008) and most recently in Singapore (2012). Concurrently, the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) began organizing its Asia-Pacific Symposium on Food Safety since 2009 in Korea and subsequently in Australia (2011) and Taiwan (2013). This year, ILSI Southeast Asia Region, IAFP, the Southeast Asia Association for Food Protection (SEA AFP), and Food Safety & Quality Division (FSQD), Ministry of Health, Malaysia, will jointly organize the 4th Asia Pacific International Food Safety Conference and 7th Asian Conference on Food and Nutrition Safety. The conference will be held on October 11-13, 2016, in Penang, Malaysia - a beautiful and vibrant city with a rich heritage and food culture. As part of the conference program, there will also be pre- and post-conference workshops focusing on topics such as technical requirements under the new US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that may affect food producers in the Asia-Pacific region. ILSI Southeast Asia Region and SEA AFP as the main conference organizers look forward to welcoming you to this important conference. To find out more information about registration and abstract submissions for the conference, please visit the conference website at: www.apacfoodsafety2016.com
NEWS AND RESEARCH
Novel Food Regulations in the EU and Thailand
The European Union has recently adopted an updated 'Novel Food' Regulation, (Regulation (EU) 2015/2283), which repeals the existing regulation that has been in force since 1997 (Regulation (EC) No 258/97). The new regulation revises the definition of what constitutes as a 'novel food', which among other things includes food derived from animal clones as well as foods consisting of engineered nanomaterials. While authorization and safety assessment procedures are generally required for 'novel foods' before being sold on the market in the EU, the regulation does provide for a simplified notification procedure for 'traditional foods from third countries'. To be considered for the notification procedure, such traditional foods must be demonstrated to have a history of safe use, which can be confirmed by providing compositional data and evidence of the food being consumed continuous for at least 25 years as part of the regular diet in at least one country outside of the EU. To facilitate the implementation of the new regulation, the European Food Safety Authority has developed draft guidances on the application and presentation of an application for authorization of a 'novel food' and on the application and presentation of an application for notification for authorization of a 'traditional foods from third countries'.
Similarly, there are plans to adopt novel food regulations in Thailand. According to the draft regulation notified to the World Trade Organization (available here), a 'novel food' in Thailand is defined as any material used as a food or food ingredient that has been significantly used for human consumption for less than 15 years; and/or have been manufactured using a production process not currently being used that may result in changes in the composition or structure of the food or food ingredient that may affect its nutrition value, metabolism or level of undesirable substances. It however excludes food and food additives obtained using genetic engineering techniques. Materials that are classified to be 'novel foods' will have to undergo a safety assessment procedure, which may also refer to existing risk assessments undertaken for such materials by other international risk assessment bodies.
Joint Symposium on "Insights to Emerging Trends in Food Science and Technology" to be held in Singapore
On September 14-16, 2016, Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore will be organizing a joint symposium with Jiang Nan University and the University of California-Davis on "Insights to Emerging Trends in Food Science and Technology". The Joint Symposium will serve as a platform to share the latest developments in the food industry in Singapore, China and the United States. Among the topics that will be focused on at the symposium include technological innovations in food safety, environmental sustainability in food processing and global trends and its impact on consumers. Further information about the symposium, including on abstract submissions, can be found here.
New Approaches for Safety Assessment of Foods and Food Ingredients
The existing paradigms for safety assessment of foods and food ingredients have largely been based on extrapolating toxicity data from animal-based studies to determine the potential risk to human health. While such traditional approaches are appropriate for chemically-defined food substances, such as food additives and flavourings, they may be less useful for more complex 'novel food' ingredients or whole foods that are not as well characterized. Furthermore, the conventional approach to safety assessment may also present challenges in cases where the food substance may provide nutritional benefits as well as potential adverse effects over a relatively narrow range of doses, such as for vitamins and minerals. Recognizing these challenges and taking into account recent advances in toxicological and safety research, the ILSI Europe Novel Food and Nanotechnology Task Force recently published a scientific outlining a new roadmap for a step-wise approach to evaluating the safety of foods and food ingredients. This new approach focuses on the mechanism of action for substances as the basis for the safety assessment. It incorporates existing safety assessment elements, such as characterizing the physico-chemical properties of a substance, together with more recent toxicological and safety testing methodologies, such as predictive computational approaches, integrated testing strategy design and in vitro assays. The data generated from these testing methods are integrated using bioinformatic tools and systems biology to facilitate better understanding the mode of action of the substance being assessed, which inform subsequent steps in the risk assessment process. A copy of the paper published the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology is available here.
FSANZ Publishes Reports on Use and Safety of Nanotechnology in Food Additives and Packaging
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) published a series of commissioned reports that reviewed the potential health risks associated with nanotechnologies in existing food additives and an exploratory appraisal of safety and regulation of nanotechnologies in food packaging. The report concluded that there are no significant health risks associated with the current use of nano-scale silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide and silver in food based on the available evidence. These findings are consistent with the toxicological dossiers prepared for these compounds through the OECD's Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials. Furthermore, the reviewers also found that there was no direct evidence that novel nanomaterials were currently being used in food packaging applications in Australia or New Zealand, as most of the patents for such applications were only found in the United States. The report also examined case studies that looked at the use of nano-clay and nano-silver in food packaging, but did not find any evidence in the literature of migration of nano-clay from packaging into foods; while use of nano-silver was not considered a likely a risk to human health when used in food or packaging applications. More information about these reports can be found on the FSANZ website here and expert reactions to the reports are also reported here.
FAO Seminar on "Safety of Novel Food and Genetically-Altered Crops: What Would Science-based Regulation Look Like?"
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a seminar on the topic of “Safety of novel food and genetically altered crop – What would science-based regulation look like?” on October 13, 2015, which was presented by Dr. Andrew Bartholomaeus, who was the former General Manager for Risk Assessment at Food Standards Australia New Zealand and also a current Scientific Advisor to ILSI Southeast Asia Region. The seminar discussed the general principles of food safety regulation and also shared on specific issues that are pertinent to considerations for safety assessment of crops that have been genetically-altered, such as the fact that plant genomes are inherently unstable and constantly evolving. The report from the seminar is available on the FAO website here and a video of the seminar can also be viewed on YouTube here.
Conference on Innovation in Food
On October 10, 2015, the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) of the European Commission organized a conference on “Innovation in Food” at Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy, to exchange views with different stakeholders on food innovations and technologies and its potential future impact on EU regulations for food additives, enzymes, flavourings, novel foods and food contact materials. The conference is a continuation of earlier discussions on the same topic that were initiated during a previous conference on “Safety and Nutrition in 2050”, which was organized on July 17, 2015, also at Expo 2015. The video recordings from both conferences are available for viewing online on YouTube - for "Innovation in Food" here and "Safety and Nutrition in 2050" here.