Executive Summary of the Food Expert Advisory Committee Meeting November 21-22, 2012

Objective of the Meeting

This was the eighth meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee. The purpose of the session was:

  • 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, November 21, 2012

Introduction and Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Paul Paquin and Dr. Keith Mussar, 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. He attributed the success to the members' recognition that they sit on the Committee as experts representing 34 million Canadians, and to the high level of respect members show each other, seeking to listen to colleagues first and then share points of view.

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, welcomed members and introduced new Committee member, Dr. Simone Lemieux.

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 workplan for the current fiscal year. This was followed by questions and comments from members.

Members proposed, and will further discuss, the development of a general statement to support the sustainability of the work carried out by Health Canada's Food Directorate.

Food Expert Advisory Committee Member Information Sharing

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, informed the members that a renewal of the Committee Co-chairs would be taking place in 2013. Members joined Dr. Godefroy in thanking Dr. Paquin and Dr. Mussar for their leadership and hard work over the last two years, as inaugural Co-chairs of the Committee.

Dr. Keith Mussar, Co-chair of the Food Experts Advisory Committee, invited feedback and advice from members on the use of public information provided to members as part of their work on the Committee,

The members held a general discussion on transparency and openness, noting that the terms may be differently defined by different groups, inside and outside of Health Canada. It was agreed that this topic would be brought forward for further discussion by the Committee, to provide clarity and define what the terms mean when used in the context of the Committee and its work.

Food Directorate Stakeholder Engagement Plan

In follow up to an action item from the October 25 and 26, 2011 Food Expert Advisory Committee meeting, Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, and Ms. Carol Toone, Manager, Governance and Outreach Unit, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, presented the draft Food Directorate Stakeholder Engagement Plan.

Members provided feedback and advice to the Food Directorate on key areas to consider and on potential vehicles for reaching stakeholders, in particular consumers and health professional organizations. Members were invited to provide further comments to the Food Experts Advisory Committee Secretariat.

Inspection Modernization Plan

Ms. Ronna Reddick, Technical Officer, Improved Inspection Delivery Model, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) briefed members on the CFIA Inspection Modernization Plan, and solicited feedback from members.

Members provided comments for consideration by the CFIA including support for the development of guidance and training for CFIA inspectors and third parties, and linkage with other regulatory authorities involved in food safety oversight, such as Provinces and Territories.  Members were invited to provide further comments to the Food Experts Advisory Committee Secretariat.

New Incorporation by Reference and Market Authorization Authorities

Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs and Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an overview on the new legislative authorities as a result of the application of Bill C-38, Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity, by Parliament. Mr. Papadopoulos presented a food additive case study to demonstrate the application of Health Canada's new authorities for Market Authorization and Incorporation by Reference. Ms. Lee mentioned that information on food additives was now available on the Health Canada website. The overview and case study were followed by questions and comments from members.

Discussion ensued on the stakeholder consultation process and the development and implementation of the new authorities and tools. Members supported continued and ongoing consultation moving forward.

Food Regulatory Modernization Planning

Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, 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 develop a lexicon to clarify terms, to continue working with partners such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to coordinate stakeholder information and consultations, and to focus on priority items driven by public health implications in moving forward.

Low-Level Presence of Allergens in Grains and Grain Products

Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an overview on allergens in grain based foods as a result of Agricultural Practices including identification of issues, current practices and data/knowledge gap areas.

Members commented on the importance of clear, consistent information for stakeholders, including product labelling. They supported Health Canada's continued work with partners, such as food allergen associations, to help develop and disseminate consumer information, and suggested Health Canada continue its work with food supply chain stakeholders, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and international food regulatory partners to help address data gaps and draw on the experiences of other regulatory authorities in moving forward.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Paul Paquin 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 several important topics for discussion and advice, and that some of the issues would benefit from comments from members who were not able to attend on this second day. They noted that they would plan a follow-up conference call with the absent members to seek their comments on these specific issues.

Bureau of Microbial Hazards: Current Issues and Priorities

Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an overview of Bureau activities to inform members and obtain their feedback and advice on priority issues.

Members provided advice on microbial issues of priority to Health Canada including the recent E. coli outbreak associated with the beef recall, Listeria in ready-to-eat meat, Salmonella control and high pressure processing as a mitigation strategy.

Update on Caffeine in Foods

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 exposure to caffeine from food and beverage sources. The briefing was followed by questions and feedback from members.

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

Transition of Foods Formerly Marketed as Natural Health Products to the Food Regulatory Framework

Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Science and Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, provided an update to members on the transition of foods formerly marketed as natural health products to the food regulatory framework. The update was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Co-consumption of Caffeinated Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs and Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Science, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, briefed members on current Health Canada activities related to mitigation of risks related to co-consumption of caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol. The briefing was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Next Steps Related to Food Fortification and Health Claims Policy

Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, briefed members on Health Canada's initial considerations to review its policy and regulatory requirements for food fortification and health claims. The briefing was followed by questions and feedback from members.

Feedback from members included the importance of developing principles and consideration of international, cultural and societal aspects of food and nutrition in building the foundation for food fortification and a health claims policy.

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

Closing Comments

In closing, Dr. Mussar, Co-chair of the Food Experts Advisory Committee, noted that it had been a unique experience to be selected, along with Dr. Paquin, as first Co-chairs of the Committee, a group evolving as an important source of expert advice for Health Canada. He thanked members for their input and advice to Health Canada and invited members to provide comment on the meeting. Members commented that the meeting had been valuable and engaging, and cited the positive dynamic between members as providing the foundation for the productive meetings and successful work of the Committee.

Next Meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee

Scheduled for April 16 and 17, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Appendix: List of Participants

Food Expert Advisory Committee Members

  • Mr. Herb Barbolet
  • 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

Regrets

  • Dr. Mary Alton Mackey
  • Mr. François Décary-Gilardeau
  • Dr. George Paterson
  • Dr. Philip Schwab
  • Dr. David Skinner

Government of Canada representatives

  • Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Dr. Jeff Farber, Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Barbara Lee, Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Mr. Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Dr. William Yan, Director, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Mr. Hans Yu, Director, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Mrs. Ronna Reddick, Technical Officer, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Ms. Carol Toone, Manager, Governance and Engagement, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Annie Noël, Secretariat Officer, Bureau of Business Systems and Operations, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada

Observers

  • Mr. Riaz Awadia, Senior Policy Analysts, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Lydia Dumais, Section Head, Nutrition Labelling and Claims, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada Ms. Diane Fournier, Regulatory Policy and Risk Management Specialist, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Johanna Jennings, Regulatory Policy Officer, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Charmaine Kuran, Section Head, Nutrition Composition, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Nora Lee, Chief, Nutrition Regulations and Standards Division, Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Mr. Michael Masotti, Senior Issues Manager, Director General's Office, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Mr. Patrice Milord, Senior Policy Analyst, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Anu Shukla-Jones, Regulatory Policy Analyst, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
  • Ms. Lynn Stewart, Director, Food Regulatory Issues Division, Food Value Chain Bureau, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
  • Ms. Amanda Whitfield, Regulatory Policy Officer, Bureau of Policy, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada
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