Globalization threatens ingredient quality, says USP

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food additive Food

The globalization of food poses risks on the safety and quality of
ingredients said the US Pharmacopeia (USP), which is providing
advice on overcoming new challenges.

"With the increasing globalization of the food supply, the availability of pure and safe foods is more important than ever,"​ said Darrell Abernethy, chief science officer for USP. Growing areas of concern in the food industry, such as artificial colorings and flavorings, nutrients, preservatives and processing aids, present new difficulties to food manufacturers and affect food safety. These topics are all approached by the USP in the new, sixth edition of the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC)​, which is a compendium to set standards for the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients, which comes out this week. "This latest edition of the​ Food Chemicals Codex will help assure that food ingredients are meeting high standards of quality for public consumption, just as USP has done with pharmaceutical products for close to 200 years." Industry challenges​ The effect of the globalization of food has been picked up by many American bodies. Andrew von Eschenbach, commissioner of food and drugs at the FDA, said this week it must adapt with the times to meet the new challenges. "Urbanization has given way to globalization, and the industrial age now embraces theinformation age,"​ he said. ​"As with the past these changes are filled with promise but also peril as they impact on our health. Society must respond and, I believe, recreate the FDA." Colorings and flavorings have also come of particular interest recently, as more and more scientific research points to the risks they pose on health. ​For example, a UK study conducted at Southampton University and published in The Lancet​ last September concluded that cocktails of food colorings commonly used in confectionery and beverages, and sodium benzoate, can aggravate hyperactivity in children. The safety of all sorts of artificial additives is of similar interest as the health and wellbeing trend continues and consumers demand more natural and organic products. The FCC ​The USP, a private organization that sets standards for prescription and over-the-counter medications sold in the US, said the FCC "establishes, with the public and stakeholder guidance, internationally scientific standards for food-grade substances." ​It added: "It allows manufacturers of food, food chemicals, and food additives to comply with standards that have been created and vetted by a highly rigorous and transparent scientific process." ​The most recent edition is the first under USP's direction, having previously been published by the Institute of Medicine since 1966. The new edition contains more than 1,000 monograph standards and tests to assure the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients. A new edition will be published every two years, with an annual supplement between editions, giving scientists full and regular access to both the latest science and the revision process.

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