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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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International Activities - Denmark Meeting Addresses Animal Feeding

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter May/June 2003 Volume XVIII, No 3

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is responsible for making proposals to the Directors-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization on all matters pertaining to the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program. The purpose of these programs is to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices.

The 4th Session of the ad hoc Intergovernmental Codex Task Force on Animal Feeding was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from March 25th through the 28th and was hosted by the Government of Denmark and chaired by Mr. Mogens Nagel Larsen, Director or the Danish Plant Directorate. The Session was attended by 129 participants from 41 Member countries, and 15 international organizations. CVM’s Director, Dr. Stephen Sundlof was the U.S. delegate, and he was supported by Dr. Dan McChesney of CVM, and Mr. Larry Miller, and Ms. Edith Kennard of USDA. The Task Force was able to complete its work and forwarded the proposed draft Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding to the 26th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission for final adoption at Steps 5/8 (with the omission of Steps 6 and 7).

The full procedure for the elaboration of a Codex Standard encompasses 8 steps. The step process ensures that all member countries will have adequate opportunities to comment and discuss the proposed Code before it is accepted at Step 8 by the Commission. Completing the 8-step process can take several years. This Working Group has worked for 4 years and prior to the Working Group being established, other Committees had made attempts to address the issue of good animal feeding practices since 1995.

The participating member countries were able to agree on compromise wording for the newly reviewed Sections 5, 6 and 7. The Task Force’s work in this area was aided greatly by the working group established after the June 2002 meeting and charged to re-draft these Sections. The working group succeeded in getting and sharing input from several countries prior to the meeting such that there was general agreement on these Sections and the Task Force only needed to resolve issues that were often system or country specific.

Sections 1 through 4 of the draft Code had been reviewed in June 2002 and agreement had been reached on most paragraphs. The discussion in these Sections was focused by Mr. Larsen to four areas that contained bracketed text. Re-wording and adding words addressed the concerns in two of the bracketed text areas. The other two areas, the definition of feed additive, and GMO labeling, proved to be extremely difficult to agree upon and were only resolved when the Chairman declared that agreement had been reached.

The issue with the feed additive definition was the phrase “improves animal performance.” The U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand argued that the inclusion of the phrase was not proper because that claim is covered under the Codex definition of veterinary drug. After extended discussion lead by the EU delegation, the Chairman determined that the phrase would be dropped. The EU delegation protested and may take the issue to the Codex Alimentarius Commission in June.

The subject of labeling products of new technologies, and particularly, GMO products was intensely debated. Several countries wanted mandatory labeling while others opposed mandatory labeling. Many groups pointed out that requiring labeling of feed or feed ingredients without requiring the labeling of food from the animals made no sense. Compromise wording was proposed that would let the competent authority in each country determine whether a product of new technologies should be labeled as a risk management measure after conducting a risk assessment. The wording is, “Competent authorities may decide that feed and feed ingredients consisting, containing, or produced from GMOs should be labeled with references to the genetic modification as a risk management measure.” Debate ensued and the Chairman finally determined that agreement had been reached. The U.S., Canada, and Australia requested that the record of the meeting specifically state that they had opposed the compromise wording. Dr. Dan McChesney, Deputy Director of CVM’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance believes that “even though there was disagreement on some issues, overall the delegates thought the information contained in the Code was beneficial and would further the goal of protecting the health of consumers.”

Finally, new items for work in the animal feed area were proposed by the International Dairy Foundation and the European Union. Agreement on the areas for new work could not be reached. It was agreed that Mr. Larsen would mention all of these areas in his report to the Commission.

Food Safety Discussed in New Zealand

CVM’s Deputy Director, Dr. Linda Tollefson described the Food Safety Quad meeting as “an excellent opportunity to discuss food safety issues of importance to all the participating countries.” She added, “This year’s meeting was particularly relevant to U.S. concerns because we focused on counter-terrorism efforts and what each country was doing to address these new threats.”

The 12th Session of the Quadrilateral Meeting on Food Safety (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA) met in Queenstown, New Zealand, March 17 - 20.

The U.S. delegation was led by USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elsa Murano. USDA representation included the FSIS Deputy Administrator Linda Swacina, Karen Stuck and Karen Hulebak, also of FSIS, and Ed Scarbrough of the U.S. Codex office. FDA representation included Dr. Cathy Carnevale, Mr. Lou Carson, and Dr. Mike Wehr, CFSAN, and Dr. Linda Tollefson, CVM.

The 12th Food Safety Quad meeting provided opportunity for updates on current food safety activities of the Quad countries, and allowed participants to develop strategies to resolve mutual food safety issues and concerns.

The 12th session concentrated on developing the Quad countries’ perspectives on supporting an OIE/Codex interface, particularly for food safety issues involving zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and risk analysis. The representatives agreed to support further development of the interface at the Codex General Principles meeting. The countries agreed to keep each other informed on emergency response preparations undertaken in each country and other counter-terrorism issues. There was a great deal of discussion by Canada, New Zealand, and Australia on FDA’s proposed regulations implementing the food/feed safety provisions of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, including registration of food/feed facilities, prior notice of imported food, and administrative detention.

The Codex Ad-Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology had met in Japan the week prior to the Quad meeting. The Task Force has been extended to include issues concerning transgenic animals and cloning so each of the quad countries discussed their country’s approach to regulating these areas. Agreement was reached to continue these discussions and share risk assessments and other scientific information as it is developed. The Quad countries also agreed to support an Expert Consultation on antimicrobial resistance to be convened by FAO/WHO/OIE and to encourage the consultation to be held as soon as is feasible.

FDA Seeks VMAC Consumer Representative

FDA is requesting nominations for a consumer representative to serve as a voting member on its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee (VMAC.) Nominations will be accepted through December 31, 2003. FDA has a special interest in ensuring that women, minority groups, and individuals with disabilities are adequately represented on advisory committees and, therefore, encourages nominations of qualified candidates from these groups.

All nominations should be sent to Michael Ortwerth, Advisory Committee Oversight and Management Staff (HF-4), FDA Office of the Commissioner, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, email:Michael.Ortwerth@fda.gov.

Persons nominated for membership on the committees as a consumer representative must: (1) Demonstrate ties to consumer and community-based organizations; (2) be able to analyze technical data; (3) understand research design; (4) discuss benefits and risks; and (5) evaluate the safety and efficacy of products under review. The consumer representative must be able to represent the consumer perspective on issues and actions before the advisory committee, serve as a liaison between the committee and interested consumers, associations, coalitions, and consumer organizations, and facilitate dialogue with the advisory committees on scientific issues that affect consumers.

All nominations must include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae or resume (which should include nominee’s office address, telephone number, and e-mail address), and a list of consumer or community-based organizations for which the candidate can demonstrate active participation.

Any interested person or organization may nominate one or more qualified persons for membership on the VMAC to represent consumer interests. Self-nominations are also accepted. FDA will ask the potential candidates to provide detailed information concerning such matters as financial holdings, employment, and research grants and/or contracts to permit evaluation of possible sources of conflict of interest. The nomination should specify that this is for the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee. The term of office is up to 4 years, depending on the appointment date.