Executive Summary of the Food Expert Advisory Committee Meeting by teleconference, January 25, 2012

Objective of the Meeting

This was the fifth meeting of the Food Expert Advisory Committee (FEAC). This teleconference was intended to provide FEAC members with updates on key food safety and nutrition files.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Introduction/Welcoming Remarks

Dr. Paul Paquin, Chair of the Food Expert Advisory Committee (FEAC), welcomed members to the meeting and noted that this meeting is intended as information sharing with questions and answers. Dr. Paquin welcomed new FEAC member Dr. Simone Lemieux to the committee.

Dr. Keith Mussar, Associate Chair, FEAC, thanked members for their hard work, noting that we respect all points of view and aim to reach consensus where possible. Dr. Mussar also noted that the Chair/Associate Chair had asked the Food Directorate (FD) to provide a summary of all recommendations tabled to date, which will be sent to the members.

Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Director General, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB), Health Canada, expressed appreciation for the work of FEAC members in helping the FD meet its deliverables. Dr. Godefroy noted that the face-to-face meeting that was originally planned for January 2012 had to be postponed due to a limited number of agenda items. He welcomed the proposal made by  the Chair and Associate Chair to hold a teleconference instead and use it as an opportunity to provide members with updates, and possibly engage in discussions on Food Directorate current and upcoming initiatives.

Updates on pre-market review activities and corresponding regulatory decisions

Anatole Papadopoulos, Director, Bureau of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Food Directorate, provided updates on recent and upcoming food regulatory decisions.

Members noted with appreciation efforts made by the Food Directorate to address the backlog of food additive regulatory decisions. They also noted the progress made in streamlining all other pre-market review processes. Some members encouraged the Food Directorate to continue to build on best practices adopted in this area by other government departments and agencies.  Other members insisted on continued focus on transparency in implementing the changes to Food Directorate processes.

Transition of Products at the interface of Food/Natural Health Products to the Food Regulatory Framework

Dr. Samuel Godefroy provided an update pursuant to the early notice that FEAC members received in September 2011 of the decision to move energy drinks into the food regulatory framework, which was followed by the Ministerial announcement related to the proposed management approach of Energy Drinks on October 6, 2011. Comments from members included the importance of providing consumers with good information about bioactive ingredients that may be included in these products. Emphasis was also made on how these products will be assessed, particularly vis-a-vis their potential effects on children, with the need to consider the corresponding risk management approach to mitigate these risks.

Updates and Discussion on Selected Standard Setting and Risk Management Initiatives

Dr. Mark Feeley, Associate Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate and
Dr. Kirsten Mattison, Acting Director, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate provided updates on key files.

Open Forum

Members raised questions and comments on various issues, including the results of the consultations on the policy intent to update the regulatory provisions for raw milk cheese (to be brought back to FEAC), and clarification on consumer information with respect to listeria in ready-to-eat foods. Questions were raised related to other key Food Directorate files, such as the Food Directorate efforts in dietary sodium reduction initiatives. Clarification was provided on continued commitment of the Department and the Food Directorate to support Canadians in their sodium reduction efforts. This initiative will continue to focus on collaborative efforts with all stakeholders, on providing guidance to industry on sodium reduction practices in processed foods and in the food service sector; enhanced awareness and education activities and continued research to support filling information gaps and development of new tools useful in sodium reduction.

Appendix: List of Attendees

Food Regulatory Advisory Committee Members
Dr. Mary Alton Mackey
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
Mr. George Paterson
Dr. Vijaya Raghavan
Dr. David Skinner
Dr. Rickey Yada 

Government Officials
Dr. Samuel Godefroy (Executive Secretary)
Mark Feeley
Dr. Kirsten Mattison
Michael Masotti
Anatole Papadopoulos
Nancy Richards
Randy Meltzer (Observer, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada)

Food Regulatory Advisory Committee Secretariat
Wendy Atkin
Annie Noël

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