Newly formed agency 'down under', the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), this week invited interested parties and organisations to comment on a number of proposed changes to the Food Standards Code, including a review of the hotly discussed ingredient kava, and a new enzyme for processing.
Clearly linked to increasing concerns over the safety of kava in food, inspired by recent reports across the world of liver damage associated with kava extracts used in complementary medicines and dietary supplements, FSANZ has started a review of the present food standard regulating the ingredient. The review will examine information on the toxicity of kava, including the safety of extracts used in food products.
This standard permits the use of raw kava, but prohibits it from being mixed with other foods. The standard also recognises that kava can be present in products regulated under the New Zealand Dietary Supplements Regulations (1985).
In Australia, the standard operates in conjunction with a management strategy (the National Code of Kava Management) involving the Australian Customs Service, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and State and Territory health departments.
In addition to kava, the FSANZ is calling for comments on the use of gamma-cyclodextrin, used as a flavour, colour or sweetener carrier, as a novel food ingredient. According to the agency scientific evaluations concluded that there is no evidence of any public health and safety concerns associated with its consumption at the proposed levels of use and proposes that gamma-cyclodextrin be allowed as a novel food ingredient.
Novel foods are defined as non-traditional foods for which insufficient knowledge exists in the broad community to ensure safe use in the form in which they are presented. They have to undergo a pre-market safety assessment by FSANZ before being considered for approval for sale in Australia and New Zealand.
Also this week, FSANZ is calling for public comment on the enzyme transglucosidase, sourced from Aspergillus niger, and used as a processing aid on maltose syrups to produce isomalto-oligosaccharides - a recently developed category of sugar syrups applicable for a number of industries. FSANZ writes that the report concludes there are no public health and safety concerns associated with the use of this enzyme and as such, is recommending that the enzyme be permitted as a processing aid.
Assessment reports for all the above applications and proposals can be accessed at FSANZ. Submissions should be received by 20 November 2002.