Executive Summary of the Food Expert Advisory Committee Meeting June 5-6, 2013

Objectives of the Meeting:

This was the ninth meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee. The objectives of the session were:

  • To seek advice from committee members on key food and nutrition safety topics and issues for Health Canada consideration in decision making.
  • To inform about the ongoing work of the Food Directorate and its partners to optimize members' knowledge and expertise for input into decision making processes.

This report follows the order of the meeting agenda and is a summary of the information presented. The list of attendees is attached as Appendix.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 (Day 1)

Introduction and Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, welcomed Ms. Francy Pillo Blocka in her new role as co-chair and he thanked Dr. Paul Paquin for his contribution over the last three years as the chair of the committee.

Dr. Keith Mussar and Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka, Co-chairs of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, welcomed members and observers to the meeting. They thanked the members for their contributions and commented on their important roles and responsibilities as members. Dr. Mussar further congratulated the members on making the Committee a success and for the collegial environment that Committee members fostered.

Update and Look Forward on Key Activities

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, thanked members for their time investment and for their continued support to the Food Directorate in providing their insights and expertise on key directorate files. He noted that the Committee was considered important and highly regarded inside and outside of the Department. He then gave an overview of the directorate Key Commitments for the current fiscal year. This was followed by questions and comments from members.

Food Regulatory Modernization Workplan & Prioritization

Ms. Jennifer-Anne McNeill, Acting Director, Bureau of Policy, International and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada and Mr. Riaz Awadia, Senior Policy Analyst and Ms. Diane Fournier, Senior Regulatory Policy Officer, in the same Bureau, provided an overview of the forward planning approach for food regulatory modernization. Members were invited to provide feedback and advice on the planning approach and key criteria and issues.

Feedback and advice provided by members included suggestions to Health Canada to continue working with partners such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure best alignment for the food regulatory modernization agendas of both agencies.

Inspection Modernization Plan

Ms. Catherine Airth, Associate Vice-President, Agency Transformation and Ms. Lyzette Johnston, Agrifood Division, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) briefed members on the CFIA Inspection Modernization Plan, and solicited feedback from members.

Update on Sodium Reduction Activities & Feedback on Options for the Percent Daily Value for Sodium in the Nutrition Facts Table

Ad hoc sodium Members joined the meeting via teleconference for the discussion.

Dr. William Yan, Director and Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an update to members on the sodium and the percent Daily Value for Sodium in the Nutrition Facts Table. The updates were followed by questions and feedback from members.

FEAC Terms of Reference and Membership

Food Experts Advisory Committee Members endorsed the updated Terms of Reference.

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, informed members of the resignation of two members and that a membership renewal process of Committee members would be taking place in the summer of 2013.

Key Messages & Review of Day 1

Members also agreed on key outcomes of the meetings as follows:

Health Canada hosted the 9th meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee June 5 & 6, 2013

  • FEAC was provided with an update on the Government of Canada's response to the outcomes of the XL review panel.
  • FEAC was provided with Health Canada's Food Directorate Business Plan and Key Commitments for 2013-14 and provided input into the plan.
  • FEAC supported the Food Directorate's Regulatory Modernization Workplan and Priorities for 2013-18.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) briefed FEAC members on the development of the new single food regulation under the Safe Foods for Canadians Act and the CFIA change agenda.
  • The extended membership of FEAC, the ad hoc sodium members, received an update on domestic and international sodium reduction activities.  FEAC members provided initial feedback on options being considered regarding the percent daily value for sodium on the Nutrition Facts Table. Further discussions on this item will be planned.
  • FEAC affirmed the updated terms of reference for the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

Thursday, June 6, 2013 (Day 2)

Plan for Day 2

Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka and Dr. Keith Mussar, Co-chairs of the Food Experts Advisory Committee, welcomed members to the second day of the meeting, and thanked them for a successful first day. They noted that the second day of the meeting included a few modifications to the agenda to discuss important emerging topics for discussion and feedback.

Gluten-Free Labelling on Beer

Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, briefed members on current Health Canada's initial assessment activities regarding gluten-free labeling on beer. The briefing was followed by questions and feedback from members.

This item will be brought forward to the Committee for further discussion.

Health Canada's Publications and Update on Transparency Agenda

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, informed the members of the government wide changes occurring to the websites and the consequences for Food Directorate web publications.  He asked member for feedback and insights to maintain and further support the Directorate transparency agenda.

This item will continue to be brought forward to the Committee for further discussion.

Update on Mechanically-Tenderized Beef

Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an update on the announcement/report from the XL Foods incident. The update was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Irradiation Update

Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, and Ms. Jennifer-Anne McNeill, Acting Director, Bureau of Policy, International and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch provided an update on HC's consideration to extend food irradiation process to meat and meat products. The update was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister's Visit

Ms. Anne Lamar, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada met with the committee members during lunch and had an open and productive dialogue.

Food Fortification and Health Claim Policy

Mr. Riaz Awadia, Senior Policy Analyst, Bureau of Policy, International and Inter-Governmental Affairs, and  Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada updated members on Health Canada's considerations to review its policy and regulatory requirements for food fortification and health claims. The update was followed by questions and feedback from members.

This item will continue to be brought forward to the Committee for further discussion as work on these files progresses.

Nutritional Labelling

Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an update to members on the plan forward to update Canada's nutrition labelling requirements.  The update was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Food Expert Advisory Committee Member Information Sharing

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, invited members to provide the Secretariat with key emerging issues that they would consider important for possible discussion at a future meeting.

Key Messages & Review of Day 2

Members also agreed on key outcomes of the meetings as follows:

Health Canada hosted the 9th meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee June 5 & 6, 2013.

  • FEAC was provided with background information and terminology pertaining to gluten free claims for barley-based beer. FEAC supported the Directorate's proposed approach.
  • FEAC was provided with an update on Health Canada's Food Directorate proposed change to website publications including an update on the Directorate's transparency agenda. FEAC was supportive of the Directorate's progress related to transparency. FEAC members expressed some concerns on possible limited availability of information pertaining to food regulatory guidance on Health Canada's website.
  • FEAC was provided with updates on food irradiation and mechanically-tenderized beef and its safe handling, for which input and guidance were provided.
  • FEAC was provided with an update on the implementation of a number of Food Directorate files: transition of products that previously gained market access as Natural Health Products, food fortification, health claim policy and nutrition labelling. Comments were provided.
  • FEAC discussed future agenda items for the next meeting(s).

Closing Comments

In closing, Dr. Keith Mussar and Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka, Co-chairs of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, advised members that they should send in their comments on all questions at the earliest opportunity.  He thanked members for their input and advice to Health Canada and invited members to provide comments on the meeting. Members commented that the meeting had been valuable and engaging, but noted the limited time allotted to some agenda items.

Next Meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee

Scheduled for October 9-10, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Appendix: List of Participants

Food Expert Advisory Committee Members

  • Mr. Josh Brandon
  • Mr. Carl Carter
  • Mr. Albert Chambers
  • Ms. Jackie Crichton
  • Dr. Mansel Griffiths
  • Mr. Nyall Hislop
  • Mr. Mike Horwich
  • Dr. Simone Lemieux
  • Mr. Jim McCarthy
  • Dr. Keith Mussar
  • Dr. Paul Paquin
  • Mrs. Francy Pillo-Blocka
  • Dr. Vijaya Raghavan
  • Dr. Rickey Yada
  • Dr. Mary Alton Mackey
  • Mr. François Décary-Gilardeau
  • Dr. George Paterson

Regrets

  • Dr. Philip Schwab
  • Dr. David Skinner
  • Mr. Herb Barbolet

Government of Canada representatives (Participation was limited to selected and relevant agenda items)

  • Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Canada (FD-HC)
  • Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), FD-HC
  • Ms. Jennifer-Anne McNeill, A/Director, Bureau of Policy, Intergovernmental and International Affairs (BPIIA), FD-HC
  • Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences (BNS), FD-HC
  • Mr. Hans Yu, Director, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations (BBSO), FD-HC
  • Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, BNS, FD-HC
  • Mr. Riaz Awadia, Senior Policy Analyst, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Isabelle Slight, Senior Policy Analyst, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Mr. Michael Masotti, Senior Issues Manager, DGO, FD-HC
  • Ms. Catherine Airth, Associate Vice-President, Agency Transformation, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Ms. Lyzette Johnston, Agrifood Division, CFIA
  • Mr. Raymond W Tsang, Manager, Governance and Engagement, BBSO, FD-HC
  • Ms. Annie Noël, Secretariat Officer, BBSO, FD-HC

Observers (Participation was limited to selected and relevant agenda items)

  • Ms. Catrina Hendrickx, Senior Policy Analyst, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
  • Ms. Lynn Stewart, Director, Food Regulatory Issues Division, AAFC
  • Mr. Trevor Satchwill, Head, Exposure Re-evaluation Section 1, Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)
  • Ms. Heidi Liepold, Manager, Cardiovascular/Cancer Issues, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
  • Ms. Sarah Davis, Food Microbiology Specialist, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Ms. Yana Gryshan, Scientific Information Specialist, CFIA
  • Ms. Samielle Harris, Technical Specialist, Allergy and Food Composition, CFIA
  • Ms. Sarah Kassem, Program Specialist, Consumer Protection Division, CFIA
  • Mr. Tim O'Connor, Manager, Media Relations, CFIA
  • Ms. Ania McIntyre, Chief, Compliance -Allergen & Chemistry, Imported and Manufactured Food, CFIA
  • Ms. Grace Ramos, Senior Program Officer, Consumer Protection Division, CFIA
  • Ms. Catherine Semple, Chief, Compliance Micro, extraneous, nutrition, Imported and Manufactured Food, CFIA
  • Ms. Annie Morvan, Senior Program Officer, Consumer Protection Division, CFIA
  • Ms. Shirley Chalouh, Food Policy Liaison Officer, Regions and Programs Bureau (RAPB) Ontario-HC
  • Ms. Lynne Underhill, Chief, Nutrition Premarket Assessment Division, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Konstantinia Arvaniti, Senior Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Iwona Kuszczak, Scientific Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Lydia Dumais, Section Head, Nutrition Labelling and Claims, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Tracy Boudreau, Nutrition Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Amanda Whitfield, Senior Policy Advisor, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Mr. Brooke Bertrand, Policy Analyst, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Mr. Patrice Milord, Senior Policy Analyst, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Cindy Chow, Regulatory Policy and Risk Management Advisor, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Diane Fournier, Senior Regulatory Policy Officer, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Isabelle Slight, Senior Policy Analyst, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Sybil Hébert, Issues Management and Outreach Officer, DGO, FD-HC
  • Mr. Martin Duplessis, Senior Science Advisor and Head, Food Emergency Management, DGO, FD-HC
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