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Proposed Draft Revised Standard for Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children (Agenda Item 8)[8]

65. The Committee recalled that following the decision of the last session, the current standard was revised by the Secretariat in the light of the comments received and circulated for comments at Step 3 prior to the session. The Committee considered the text section by section and made the following amendments.

1. Scope

66. The Committee discussed the opportunity of replacing "weaning" with another wording, as some delegations felt that it was clearly associated with a progressive adaptation, while for other delegations, it might create confusion in languages other than English. The Representative of WHO indicated that the use of "complementary feeding" had been proposed in order to avoid confusion in some languages, and to clarify that breast feeding should continue while other foods were introduced. This wording also corresponded to the International Code of Marketing for Breast Milk Substitutes.

67. The Delegation of Venezuela, supported by other delegations and the Observer from Consumers International, proposed a recommended age of "about six months", referring to World Health Assembly resolutions of 1992 (WHA 45.34) and 1994 (WHA 47.5). The Representative of WHO recalled that this issue had been discussed repeatedly, and that the words "about six months" should be seen in the overall context of WHO's infant feeding recommendation. The first part concerned the four to six months duration of exclusive breast feeding while the second part referred to the approximate timing of the introduction of complementary foods. The age range was an essential element of WHO's recommendation and starting complementary feeding too early or too late were both undesirable. Further scientific evidence on the variable impact of individual and population circumstances may warrant a change in the future, but present data confirmed WHO's long-standing recommendation.

68. Some delegations stressed the health hazards resulting from inadequate complementary feeding, especially when introduced too early. The Committee reiterated that the application of specific measures was left to national authorities in accordance with their health policy. The Representative of WHO emphasized that the decision to start complementary feeding depended on the growth needs of the infant, the foods available including the amount of breast milk and environmental and social conditions.

69. The Committee adopted the WHO proposal for rewording the Scope, adding a reference to infant formula.

2. Description

70. Notwithstanding the view of the Delegation of India that starchy roots should not be included as they did not provide good quality protein, the Committee agreed to retain them and to add starchy stems which were a staple food in some regions (sago). It was noted that this provision had been included to take into account the needs of countries where no other raw materials were available for the preparation of complementary foods. It was further agreed to include arachis in square brackets in view of allergenicity risks.

2.1 Definitions

71. The Committee agreed to amend and simplify the definitions as suggested by several delegations and the Observer from the EC, with the understanding that the same products were covered.

2.2.2 Other Definitions

72. In the definition of "young children" a reference to "36 months" was added and the reference to kilojoule and kilocalorie was deleted (2.2.3). The Committee accepted a proposal of Malaysia to exclude sweetened condensed milk (in square brackets). The Observer from IDF referred to the ongoing review of the Code of Principles concerning Milk and Milk Products, where "milk" was defined.

3. Essential Composition and Quality Factors

73. A general statement was included to indicate that requirements for energy and nutrients referred to the product ready for use, unless otherwise specified.

3.2 Energy Density

74. Some delegations felt that this provision was not necessary as other criteria adequately defined nutritional value; the Committee discussed the need to retain it and noted that this addressed a concern expressed by countries where insufficient energy density was a cause of malnutrition. Although the Delegation of India supported a higher value, the Committee agreed that the level should be raised from 0.6 to 0.8 kcal/g.

3.3 Protein

75. The Committee discussed several proposals for the expression of protein content, especially whether the minimum contents of 15% and 12% should be retained. As the categories had been amended in the definitions, the Committee agreed that further consideration should be given to protein contents, as expressed in the following proposals: the current sections 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 (the rest of the section being deleted) and the alternative EC proposal, both in square brackets. The corresponding Labelling section (8.5.2) was retained in square brackets.

3.4 Carbohydrates and 3.5 Lipids

76. The Committee agreed in principle to include new sections on carbohydrate and lipids, leaving the actual figures in square brackets for further consideration.

3.6 Minerals

77. The Committee agreed to include in square brackets a proposal from Indonesia for a maximum sodium content of 200 mg/100 kcal in savoury products for children over one year (3.6.1).

78. Section 3.6.2 concerning sodium in biscuits was retained in square brackets altough some delegations felt that it might duplicate the provisions in 3.6.1.

79. The Delegation of Malaysia, supported by India and some delegations, proposed to include a provision for iron as iron deficiency was a serious concern in their countries. Other delegations stressed the difficulty of setting recommended levels; as that fortification requirements differed greatly according to the country, such provisions should not be mandatory.

3.5 Vitamins

80. In section 3.5.2, the Delegation of Norway, supported by Canada and New Zealand, expressed the view that supplementation should not be mandatory for vitamins A and D in countries where deficiency was not a problem, as the high levels proposed might pose a risk to health. The Committee noted that the approach followed for vitamins and for minerals should be consistent as the standard was intended for application at the international level, and fortification should be applied in accordance with national legislation as indicated section 3.5.3. The Committee agreed to put the section in square brackets.

81. In section 3.5.3, an indicative reference to the addition of vitamin A, iron and iodine was included.

3.6 Optional ingredients

82. In section 3.6.1, the Committee included the general wording proposed by WHO. In Section 3.6.3, the Committee noted a suggestion to increase the age where cocoa could be used while some delegations proposed to delete the section, and it was put in square brackets.

4. Additives

83. The Committee noted that several proposals for amendments had been made and agreed that detailed consideration of this issue would be required at the next session. It was recalled that food additives should be proposed on the basis of the Preamble of the General Standard for Food Additives, especially regarding technological justification.

5. Contaminants

84. The Delegation of Germany proposed to include specific requirements for pesticide residues, in view of the health risks for infants and children. Although there was consensus on the inclusion of a general statement concerning the precautions needed, the Committee recognized that the establishment of MRLs was outside its competence and agreed that this question should be referred to the Committee on Pesticide Residues, while encouraging countries to provide specific information on this issue.

8. Labelling

85. A statement was included in square brackets to the effect that all required information should be given in the appropriate language, in view of some countries' concerns.

86. The Committee did not accept the proposal of the Delegation of Hungary, supported by some delegations, to prohibit nutrient function claims regarding dietary properties.

87. In section 8.5.4 (declaration of gluten), the reference to six months was left in square brackets, as no conclusion could be reached.

88. The Committee had an extensive exchange of views on the requirements for the age of introduction and agreed to specify: the intended age of use; that products should not be used before 4 to 6 months; that the decision should be made with a health worker.

Status of the Proposed Revised Draft Standard on Cereal-Based Foods for Infants and Young Children

89. The Committee recognized that further consideration should be given to the extensive amendments proposed and agreed to return the Proposed Draft Standard to Step 3 for further comments (see Appendix VIII).

[8] CX/NFSDU 96/7-I and Parts II to V (comments of Denmark, France, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, CI, EC, ISDI), CRD 7 (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Malaysia, Norway, Thailand, WHO, IBFAN, Biopolymer, ISDI, CI), CRD 12 (Indonesia)

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