Hylobates’ director interviewed on the origins of PlantLIBRA and the botanicals meta-database

PlantLIBRA International Innovation Article

In the new issue of International Innovation, Patrizia Restani, PlantLIBRA‘s coordinator, Patrick Coppens, from the European Botanical Forum  and Hylobates’ Luca Bucchini tell about the PlantLIBRA project. As project manager, Luca recounts the origins of the project proposal and one of its key concepts, the botanicals and Plant Food Supplement database. The issue can be accessd on line. The article can also be downloaded, p84-86_PlantLIBRA

– The PlantLIBRA Management Team –

Risk/benefit assessment of plant food supplements on “display” at the 20th Society for Risk Analysis Europe Meeting

Hylobates Consulting is working on the development of a risk/benefit assessment of plant food supplements (PFS) together with the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Kuopio (Finland), as partners of PlantLIBRA EU funded project (for more information visit http://www.plantlibra.eu). Preliminary results on the work done so far were presented at the poster session of the 20th Meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis Europe, which was held in Stuttgart (Germany) on June, 6th -8th.

The model under development will be the result of the integration of existing models for risk/benefit assessments used in other sectors and for other products, such as food and drugs. To achieve this purpose, literature on methods currently in use, such as the one provided by the European Food Safety Agency for risk/benefit assessment of food or methods proposed by the European Medicine Agency for drugs,  is being revised by researchers at Hylobates Consulting.

Of course the final model will have to meet the various features of plant food supplements and will have to be adaptable to the characteristics of the finished product for which the assessment is required (extract, plant species, specific compounds). This represent the challenge which researchers are currently facing in the integration of risk/benefit approaches currently existing.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Kuopio (Finland) is at the same time working on developing an open assessment for risk/benefit of plant food supplements through a Wiki-platform named Opasnet. By this way, the approach developed will be freely accessible both for scientific scrutiny and policy use at the same time.

Antonella Guzzon – Research team

Professor Witkamp PlantLIBRA’s Scientific Advisory Board’s vice-chair interviewed on foods and pharma convergence

Professor Witkamp

During a conference in Lille, Renger Witkamp, Professor of Nutrition and Pharmacology at Wageningen  University in the Netherlands, and PlantLIBRA’s Scientific Advisory Board vice-chair, has lately given an interesting interview on the hot topic of the convergence of food and pharmaceuticals. The Scientific Advisory Board provides advice on the progress of the PlantLIBRA EC project and helps ensure that the PlantLIBRA’s output is of the highest scientific quality. Hylobates provides the secretariat to the Board. The interview can be found on the daily online news on the website NutraIngredients.com.

The PlantLIBRA Project Management Team

Thinking ahead for the PlantLIBRA project.

After a intensive work week at the PlantLIBRA project meeting in Brasov in the middle of May, the Project Management Team has recharged energies, is taking actions in the project organization, and is planning the next steps of work.

This last meeting has given all of us the chance to reflect and to learn from all the events and outcomes of this international event, and given us helpful insights to even start planning the project’s next meeting in one year. This second project meeting  has provided us with the valuable opportunity to meet our partners, many for the first time in person since the beginning of the project. We exchanged views on plant food supplements, and shared ideas and enthusiasm about the work we are carrying on. The lessons of this first year has made us aware of achievements and problems areas to prepare us for the next work period.

A special acknowledgment for the kind and well appreciated organization and hospitality goes to PlantLIBRA partners of  the University of Transilvania, Dr Mihaela Badea and Monica Florescu, who have provided their constant support and efforts during the whole Project meeting.

Sonia Rebustini, PlantLIBRA Management Team

PlantLIBRA’s 2nd Project Meeting in Brasov, Romania, concluded last week

Thanks to the help of the Transilvania University  of Brasov and with the Coordinator, the University of Milan, Hylobates Consulting managed the practical organization the PlantLIBRA’s 2nd  Project Meeting in Brasov, Romania, which ended last week. This meeting is the culminating point of each year to hear from individual partners and work groups on their achieved results on the topic of plant food supplements.

From 17 to 20 May PlantLIBRA partners from 25 institutes and companies traveled from Bucharest to Brasov through beautiful landscapes of mixed forest and high mountains of the Transylvanian alps to meet and assess project progress.

Some programme highlights were:

•   Presentation of the 1st  year results by each working group (work package)

•   Internal work package meetings

•   Project dissemination events with local authorities and journalists

•   Presentations and dialogue with policy advisors active  in the field of plant food supplements

•   Workshop with  stakeholders representing manufactures and associations of the plant food supplement sector

Among some of the project objectives, results were presented going from the activities for building a meta-database with compositional and toxicological values of botanicals, the multinational surveys on intake and consumption of plant food supplements, to the risk benefit assessment of this product category,

Along with the scientific presentations, we learned as well from national authorities from Romania, Hungary, Italy, Belgium and Germany on the specific requirements for policy and legislation of plant food supplements.

More information on PlantLIBRA on:


Alejandro Rodarte, PlantLibra managment team

PlantLIBRA, Prof. Silano wishes success to the PlantLIBRA Brasov meeting

Prof. Silano, chairman of EFSA’s Scientific Committee and of PlantLIBRA’s Scientifi Advisory Board, has asked us to share a message with PlantLIBRA partners (he will not be able to attend the meeting):

I would be very grateful if you could express to all our colleagues participating in the PlantLIBRA meeting in Brasov, my sincere regrets for not being able to participate. I hoped to help develop the project in a concrete way and help avoid some pitfalls to the project. In any case, my wish is that everything goes well, considering that this project is unique in its nature and also represents a significant success for those who have put forward the proposal. Furthermore, the results of this project will not fail to provide long-waited responses with substantial benefits for consumers of food supplements with botanicals.

[translated from Italian]

The PlantLIBRA Management Team

Hylobates’ PlantLIBRA Management Team helps set up forum for dialogue between PlantLIBRA and stakeholders

During its project meeting in Brasov, Romania, PlantLIBRA’s management team based at Hylobates is organizing and inviting participants and interest groups to its workshop:

“Stakeholders in the plant supplement sector-  A needed cooperation “

Considering the varied perceptions and regulations concerning plants supplements within Europe and internationally, the close cooperation between stakeholders, policy makers, consumers, and scientists is essential. The latter to promote sound technological innovation, as well as harmonization of procedures and communication of scientific findings.

Through this workshop PlantLIBRA’s participants will meet and hear from stakeholders of the European plant supplement industry, government and other special groups, and discuss actual issues and needs of the sector. By doing so we seek their valuable feedback on how to redirect our efforts and therefore project’s results for a better interface between industry, science and policy.

Join us on 18th May.

Update on May 13: program available at this link PlantLIBRA Stakeholder Workshop Programme

– Alejandro David Rodarte,  PlantLIBRA Management Team –

Altroconsumo, Federsalus e gli integratori alimentari

No agli integratori alimentari

Nei giorni scorsi si è registrata un’editoriale polemica di Altroconsumo sugli integratori alimentari, partita da un’inchiesta (dei cui meriti non intendo discutere), cui è seguita la replica di Federsalus, con un articolo comparso su ilfattoalimentare.it che riassume il tutto.

Per chi lavora nel settore, in tutte le componenti della filiera, questi attacchi – quando sono generici ed apodittici – dispiacciono, anche per la confusione che creano nel consumatore, senza in realtà modificarne i comportamenti. Nel mondo degli integratori alimentari – come tanti settori paralleli, da quello del farmaco da banco a quello dell’alimento funzionale – c’è una grande varietà di qualità, efficacia, comunicazione. Indispensabile in questo senso è – e soprattutto sarebbe – un’azione critica, puntuale, basata su dati scientifici ed analitici, da parte del movimento consumerista, a cominciare dall’organizzazione più qualificata, che è Altroconsumo. Ritengo che la qualità di molti prodotti non sia sufficiente e che i controlli vadano incrementati.

Non posso condividere invece l’atteggiamento pregiudiziale che non è solo del movimento consumerista, ma anche di alcuni noti studiosi e personalità. Non è un pregiudizio, nella sua generalità,  basato sui dati scientifici: ci sono buone evidenze che alcuni integratori alimentari funzionano, e fanno bene, anche se, per tanti altri, la comunicazione si è svincolata dal dato scientifico (basta fare un giro in farmacia o leggere il giornale per verificarlo). Come fa notare Federsalus, non si possono poi mettere in luce solo i pareri negativi di EFSA: l’Autorità comunitaria ha ritenuto scientificamente fondati numerosi claim che riguardano gli integratori alimentari, soprattutto su vitamine e minerali (in maniera che non mi trova d’accordo, peraltro). Inoltre, se è vero che la dieta varia ed equilibrata è un obiettivo corretto, è anche vero che non è la realtà di tutti, e, in nome di un ideale corretto, non mi sembra giusto non favorire uno status nutrizionale adeguato, anche se raggiunto mediante l’integrazione. Infine, si ignorano le oggettive carenze di micronutrienti che riguardano anche la popolazione italiana (e di cui si parla pochissimo): dal ferro in numerose donne, all’acido folico, alla vitamina D e alle vitamine del gruppo B negli anziani. Forse serve la fortificazione (che non c’è), spesso modificare la dieta è poco realistico o praticabile e numerose persone potrebbero trarre un significativo beneficio da un’integrazione adeguata, e conforme alle più recenti indicazioni scientifiche.

Se insomma le organizzazioni dei consumatori si occupano di distinguere tra integratore ed integratore, senza proclami generici, fanno un buon servizio al settore industriale, prima di tutto, e, poi, ai consumatori che sono quelli che stanno a cuore a tutti.

Luca Bucchini, Managing Director

EFSA: la caffeina per lo sport funziona, altre sostanze no

In data odierna il gruppo di esperti dell’EFSA ha pubblicato i risultati della valutazione di 442 claim sulla salute proposti per l’uso nei prodotti alimentari.

Solo poche opinioni possono essere considerate positive nel campo della nutrizione sportiva,  in particolare sono stati accettati claim relativi al consumo di caffeina e aumento dello stato di allerta/attenzione, diminuzione della percezione dello sforzo durante l’esercizio fisico ed aumento della capacità in esercizi fisici di resistenza. Gli esperti dell’EFSA hanno dato inoltre parere positivo per il claim relativo alle maltodestrine resistenti affermando che c’è una relazione di causa effetto tra il consumo di questi carboidrati e il miglioramento della funzionalità intestinale. Altri esiti positivi sono riscontrabili per claim relativi alla Colina (‘contribuisce al normale metabolismo lipidico’) e ai polifenoli dell’ulivo (‘Idrossitirosolo protegge le LDL dal danno ossidativo’).

Gran parte dei claim valutati sono stati respinti, tra cui i principali relativi al consumo di caffeina e tè verde che riguardano ‘mantenimento e controllo del peso corporeo’ non potranno più essere utilizzati per prodotti ed integratori alimentari, a meno che il processo a livello comunitario abbia un esito diverso e solo quando i pareri diventeranno legge, con lo specifico regolamento di attuazione. Nessun parere positivo per quel che riguarda i claim  sugli aminoacidi come arginina, lisina, triptofano e derivati aminoacidici quali taurina, carnosina: infatti i principali claim sulla massa muscolare, attività di tipo tonico e vasodilatazione sono stati bocciati.Numerosi altri claim sono stati valutati e bocciati, in particolare molti relativi a Quercetina, Luteina, Acido Alfa Linoleico (ALA), FOS e i PUPA DHA/EPA (Omega 3) generalmente per carenza di dati sufficienti.

“Non bisogna dimenticare che EFSA ha ampiamente riconosciuto i benefici di vitamina e minerali che sono i tipici principi degli integratori alimentari, anche per lo sport (come per vitamina C e sistema immunitario dello sportivo)” ha commentato Luca Bucchini, direttore gestionale di Hylobates “Per le altre sostanze ha usato uno standard di prova molto diverso e a volte discutibile, anche se riteniamo un processo trasparente e scientificamente qualificato come quello di EFSA sia importante e necessario. Il riconoscimento per la caffeina è importante ed univoco; sarà importante bilanciare l’effetto positivo dei pareri EFSA con la necessità di portare sul mercato prodotti equilibrati, indirizzando attentamente la ricerca. Su un piano più squisitamente tecnico è importante, che con l’opinione sulla caffeina, EFSA ha confermato la possibilità di claim sulla salute nel quadro del Regolamento 1924/2006 riferiti ad attività sportive”.

Le indicazioni fornite dal Ministero della Salute sul proprio sito, fino all’entrata in vigore di un regolamento applicativo (atteso per metà 2012), restano permesse.

– Armando e Jacopo, Sport Nutrition Team –

Aggiornato alle ore 18:03 dell’8/4 con riferimento al Ministero Salute

Is mutual recognition working for food supplements?

When a company decides to import a foodstuff, including supplements, in a Member State (MS) of the European Union from another MS, it becomes important to evaluate the national legislation of that specific Member State, in terms of nutrients and substances permitted and their levels of use, but considering also the principle of Mutual Recognition, often ignored by companies and authorities alike.

According to Regulation (EC) 764/2008, Mutual Regonition is the principle of free movement of products within the market of the European Union. It applies to products not subject to harmonized legislation: “according to that principle, a Member State may not prohibit the sale on its territory of products which are lawfully marketed in another Member State, even where those products were manufactured in accordance with technical rules different from those to which domestic products are subject.”. The only exception to this principle are restrictions based on Article 30 of the EU Treaty.

However, our experience in the food supplement sector shows that this principle is often neglected by national authorities. It is often the case that an authority of a Member State practically bans a notified product based on national legislation or administrative practices. Even if the principal of mutual recognition under Regulation 764/2008 is claimed, the authorities flatly ignore the reference.

For such cases, Regulation 764/2008 also establishes Product Contact Points included in a list published on the EC website. One company may contact these points to get information to proceed with mutual recognition. However, they are often of little help. In one case, for instance, they got back to us saying that since there is no harmonization in substances permitted in food supplements in the EU, so they concluded that there is no wrong application of the EU law. This contrasts with the very reason Regulation 764/2008 was set up for.

We are looking forward to the European Commission’s steps to ensure the application of the regulation, as well as court rulings.


Sports Nutrition Team

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