Executive Summary of the Food Expert Advisory Committee Meeting (FEAC) - March 9-10, 2016

Introduction and Objectives of the Meeting:

On March 9 and 10, 2016, members of the Food Expert Advisory Committee joined the Food Directorate for the fourteenth meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee (FEAC). 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 member 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 meeting was held in Ottawa, Ontario at the Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (Day 1)

Opening and Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Keith Mussar and Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka, Co-chairs of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, and Ms. Karen McIntyre, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, welcomed members and observers to the meeting. They thanked the members for their contributions and commented on their important roles and responsibilities as members.

New FEAC Membership Introduction

Dr. Keith Mussar and Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka, Co-chairs, invited members to briefly introduce themselves and declare any changes to their affiliations and interests or conflict of interest as applicable.

Update and Look Forward on Key Activities

Ms. Karen McIntyre, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, 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. Ms. McIntyre provided an overview of key activities in the Food Directorate. This was followed by questions and comments from members.

FEAC Membership & Nomination 2015 Progress Update

Mr. Hans Yu, Director, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations (BBSO), Food Directorate, provided an update on recent nomination activities for new FEAC members and thanked FEAC departing members.

Health Canada's Role in the Codex Alimentarius Commission

Ms. Mae Johnson, Director, Bureau of Policy, Intergovernmental and International Affairs (BPIIA), Food Directorate, provided an update on Health Canada's role in the Codex Alimentarius Commission and sought advice from members. FEAC members provided input on how to increase and improve stakeholder engagement in developing Canada's positions on Codex including the use of social media, seeking input of aboriginal people and First Nations and Inuit Health Branch; support for more transparency and openness on Canadian Codex positions; solicit more input and involvement from Provinces and Territories; and that Health Canada should make more information available on their website and explore mechanisms to provide feedback to stakeholders on the outcomes of the sessions.

Merged Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) / Pathogen Reduction Initiative (PRI) Working Group

Dr. Martin Duplessis, Associate Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), Food Directorate, provided an update on the new Federal / Provincial / Territorial (FPT) Merged SE/PRI Working Group, and its planned priorities and sought advice from members. FEAC members provided input on the five Working Group priorities and provided strong support for the establishment of performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry and in the modernization of the CFIA Hatchery regulations. FEAC members raised concerns that there is not enough real time microbiological surveillance and baseline data on pathogens in Canadian poultry; and the need to gather and consider more information on consumer behaviour in policy development (i.e., seniors reliance on the use of microwaves and possible implications for food safety).

Raw Milk Cheese

Ms. Denise MacGillivray, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), Food Directorate, provided an update on soft and semi-soft cheese made from raw milk and Health Canada's Voluntary Guidance on Improving the Safety of Soft and Semi-Soft Cheese made from Unpasteurized Milk and sought advice from members. FEAC is supportive of mandatory labelling of soft and semi-soft cheeses to enable for consumers to make informed food choices. FEAC members also indicated support for a supply chain approach that would require multiple interventions at various steps along the supply chain (from Farm to fork) to ensure food safety.

FEAC Member Information Sharing

FEAC members shared information on topics including labelling, consumer behaviours and education, and performance measuring.

Key Messages (Day 1)

  • Health Canada briefed FEAC members on Health Canada's role in the Codex Alimentarius Commission. FEAC provided advice on how to increase stakeholders' involvement in developing Canada's positions on Codex.
  • Health Canada provided an update on key activities pertaining to the Merged Salmonella Enteritidis/ Pathogen Reduction Initiative Working Group. FEAC members provided input on the Working Group priorities.
  • Health Canada provided an update on the topic of raw milk cheese. FEAC members provided advice on approaches to mitigate risk.

The meeting was adjourned.

Thursday, March 10, 2016 (Day 2)

Plan for Day 2

Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka and Dr. Keith Mussar, Co-chairs of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, welcomed members to the second day of the meeting and reviewed housekeeping items and the agenda for Day 2.

Bureau of Chemical Safety Update on Priority Files

Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety (BCS), Food Directorate, provided an update on some key priorities of the Bureau of Chemical Safety. CMP chemicals identified in CMP3 where food might be a significant source of exposure. There was also interest in the management of the adventitious presence of allergens (based on the current grain supply system practices) resulting in the detection of priority allergens in grain based food and the use of a "may contain" statement. FEAC members also supported ongoing assessments of food packaging materials and the use of new authorities to IbR the list of contaminants and adulterants in food.

Nutrition Labelling Update and Advice

Dr. Alfred Aziz and Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences (BNS), Food Directorate, provided an overview of nutrition labelling with focus on daily value for fiber, list of ingredients and a new fruit and vegetable health claim, and sought advice from members. FEAC members continue to show keen interest in the nutrition labelling initiative, and recommended that Health Canada reintroduce the DV for fibre, stating it would help consumers assess the relative content of fibre in food and encourage them to eat more fibre. They also recommended that any changes to the proposed requirements to the list of ingredients made to address label space do not compromise key legibility requirements, such as colour contrast and use of mixed letter case. In the case of the fruit and vegetable health claim, FEAC members mainly sought clarification on the evidence that was used to exclude certain categories, such as fruit juice and potatoes. There was interest in seeing more progress on menu labelling given that consumers eat out more and more; need for education on nutrition; and updating Canada's Food Guide to provide guidance to people to tell them how to provide comments on regulatory proposals.

Knowledge Translation and Exchange Strategy

Ms. Elaine De Grandpré, Bureau of Nutritional Science (BNS), Food Directorate, provided an update on the knowledge translation & exchange strategy for supplemented foods and proposed approach and activities, and sought advice from members. FEAC members recognized the importance of consumer research and the need to support messaging and education that will be required to help Canadians make informed food choices.

Mandate Letter Updates

Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Science (BNS), Food Directorate, and Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Canada, provided updates on the nutrition-related commitments in the Minister of Health Mandate Letter and on the Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada. FEAC members stressed the importance of aligning Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) consultations and aligning the coming into force of regulatory requirements to minimize impact on industry.

Key Messages (Day 2)

  • Health Canada provided a progress report on the Bureau of Chemical Safety's activities on Canada's Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) and the launch of Phase III of the CMP. FEAC members provided input on the Health Canada approach.
  • Health Canada provided an update on key activities related to nutrition labelling. FEAC members provided advice on specific nutrition labelling priorities.
  • Health Canada provided an update on the supplemented foods knowledge translation and exchange strategy. FEAC members provided recommendations on how to present information for public consultation.
  • Health Canada briefed FEAC members on the Minister of Health's Mandate Letter, the Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Obesity in Canada, and related activities. FEAC members provided advice on moving forward on the mandate commitments and addressing the senate recommendations.

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 questions posed during the presentation at the earliest opportunity. Dr. Mussar, Ms. Pillo-Blocka and Ms. Karen McIntyre thanked members for their input and advice to Health Canada and invited members to provide feedback on the meeting. Departing members provided comments on their valuable experience with the Food Expert Advisory Committee and expressed their appreciation in participating.

Next Face-to-Face Meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee will be scheduled for 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, date to be determined.

Participant List

Members:

  • Dr. Keith Mussar (Co-chair)
  • Ms. Francy Pillo-Blocka (Co-chair)
  • Ms. Marilyn Allen
  • Dr. Mary Alton Mackey
  • Dr. Valerie Assinewe
  • Mr. Josh Brandon
  • Mr. Albert Chambers
  • Ms. Jackie Crichton
  • Dr. Anna Farmer
  • Ms. Lucie Granger
  • Mr. Nyall Hislop
  • Dr. Richard Holley
  • Mr. Mike Horwich
  • Dr. Simone Lemieux
  • Mr. Grant Morrison
  • Dr. Vijaya Raghavan
  • Mr. David Skinner
  • Ms. Vida Stevens
  • Dr. Rickey Yada (by teleconference, Day 1)
  • Mr. Carl Carter (Unable to attend)

Government of Canada representatives:

  • Ms. Karen McIntyre, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Canada, FD-HC
  • Ms. Mae Johnson, Director, Bureau of Policy, Intergovernmental and International Affairs (BPIIA), FD-HC
  • Dr. Martin Duplessis, Associate Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), FD-HC
  • Ms. Denise MacGillivray, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), FD-HC
  • Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety (BCS), FD-HC
  • Dr. Alfred Aziz, Chief, Bureau of Nutritional Science (BNS), FD-HC
  • Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, Bureau of Nutritional Science (BNS), FD-HC
  • Ms. Elaine De Grandpré, Manager, Bureau of Nutritional Science (BNS), FD-HC
  • Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences (BNS), FD-HC
  • Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, Director General, Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion (ONPP), HC
  • Mr. Hans Yu, Director, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations (BBSO), FD-HC
  • Mr. Raymond W Tsang, Manager, Governance and Engagement, BBSO, FD-HC
  • Ms. Karine Halpenny, Acting Secretariat Officer, BBSO, FD-HC

Observers:

  • Ms. Anne Kennedy, Deputy Director, Innovation and Regulations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
  • Mr. Michael Masotti, Senior Advisor to the Director General, FD-HC
  • Ms. Danielle Brulé, Director, Bureau of Food Surveillance and Science Integration (BFSSI), FD-HC
  • Ms. Robin Churchill, Acting Associate Director, BBSO, FD-HC
  • Ms. Marie-Pierre Parenteau, Manager, International, Interagency, Intergovernmental Affairs, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Nancy Ing, Regulatory Policy & Risk Management Specialist, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Jennifer-Anne McNeill, Senior Advisor/Issues Manager, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Cindy Chow, Regulatory Policy & Risk Management Advisor, BPIIA, FD-HC
  • Ms. Amanda A Sullivan, Nutrition Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Cynthia Boudrault, Senior Scientific Evaluator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Dr. Konstantinia Arvaniti, Scientific Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Claudia Gorenko, Nutritionist, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Jennifer Barber, Acting Section Head, Nutrition Premarket Assessment Division, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Vanessa Lien, Nutrition Project Coordinator, BNS, FD-HC
  • Ms. Johanna Jennings, Senior Regulatory Policy and Risk Advisor, BNS, FD-HC
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