The following are the AHHA comments submitted to the FDA representative, Dr. Elizabeth Yetley, to be considered when drafting the United States’ position related to the Proposed Draft Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements that will be discussed at the 25th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) to be held in Bonn, Germany, November 3-7, 2003.
September 29, 2003
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) takes the position that in its present form the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements text is not going to achieve the expected goals.
In addition to the fact that there are many variables and exceptions, the old Codex policies are no longer valid. The WTO has informed Codex that it does not differentiate between standards and guidelines.iii Further, the WTO has informed Codex that it does not recognize the Codex Levels of Acceptance options for individual nations. This means that all texts provided by Codex to WTO, no matter what they are labeled, can be used as mandatory international trade regulations to be applied to every nation.
For those who are still believe that the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements document is optional, please refer to the following quote from the 1998 report of the Codex Committee on General Principles. “There are two basic groups of Codex texts known as ‘Guidelines.’ Those in the first group expand upon, interpret or provide information of the application of other Codex standards or texts; those in the second group are in the form of standards and could be used as such.”iv
Another indication of the WTO policy to treat both standards and guidelines the same is found in the WTO clarification statement to Codex “… how a Codex text was applied depended on its substantive content rather than the category of that text.” This verifies that, as far as the WTO is concerned, categorizing a Codex text as a guideline does not differentiate it from a standard. And only the WTO has enforcement power.
When asked, most CCNFSDU members report that the original charge by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) to their committee was to draft optional guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements. These CCNFSDU delegates continue to make decisions related to the Guidelines based on this premise. In this context, a set of optional guidelines can appropriately allow exceptions, such as excluding countries that regulate vitamin and mineral supplements as drugs. However, since that original CAC assignment, Codex aligned with the WTO and the new WTO interpretations took precedence. Review of the Draft Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements text in light of the more recent WTO involvement reveals that this is not a document that can function as a mandatory standard to be applied by WTO to every nation.
CCNFSDU is already headed in this direction. The Guidelines for Use of Nutrition Claims and the Scientific Basis of Health Claims are currently being coordinated with the Codex Committee on Food Labelling. It would be appropriate to expand this to include all sections of the Guidelines related to labeling and minimum levels. Packaging and purity issues can be assigned to the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene. These assignments would also eliminate existing duplication of effort by multiple committees.
i SPS Agreement
ii TBT Agreement
iii EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION,
iv CODEX COMMITTEE ON GENERAL PRINCIPLES
These comments submitted by