ePlantLIBRA- A plant food supplement database filling in the information gaps for better regulation and safety

A new database of information on food ingredients will help clarify the fuzzy boundary between food supplements and herbal medicines across Europe” is the headline of a recent post of the Europe Research Media Center. In this article, Institute of Food Research (UK) scientist Paul FINGLAS explains the value of the database being developed and how it will pool together the existing knowledge on the beneficial and adverse effects of bioactive compounds in supplements. The database is one of the EU fundedPlantLIBRA project’s main outcomes and it will define a consistent set of references for bioactive ingredients for all member states, where presently the categorisation between plant food supplements and traditional herbal medicinal products varies between countries. This is particularly important for imported plant food supplements that need harmonized regulation to improve quality and consumer safety.

In this sense, PlantLIBRA is taking an appropriately broad strategy in analysing all relevant aspects of the research needs for the science and regulation of botanicals, such as intake and consumption patterns, supplement composition and analysis, and the evaluation of benefits and risks. Hylobates is one of the project partners currently working on the risk-benefit assessment of plant food supplements for an improved science-based decision making approach.

PlantLIBRA Management Team

Advertisements

Synephrine, octopamine: limits, doping and natural sourcing

According to Nutraingredients USA, Health Canada is going to revise its 2011 p-synephrine guideline increasing the daily amount “‘likely to cause any adverse health consequences’ from 30 mg per day to 50 mg per day. The 30 mg maximum allowable dose applied to the sum of p-synephrine and octopamine. Sources of the substance included Citrus species such as C. aurantium, as well as certain species of some other genera (e.g. Evodia rutaecarpa), and synthetic sources. A number of warnings and other conditions of use were identified by the 2011 guidelines.

A sample of similar EU guidelines indicates that Italy has a limit for synephrine, irregardless of chirality but requiring natural origin and sourcing from C. aurantium subps. amara, of 30 mg per day, and a mandatory warning measure has not been approved at EU level). UK’s MHRA states that synephrine is to be considered medicinal , and thus not allowed in supplements, though naturally present synephrine appears to be allowed in food supplements in the UK and elsewhere.

Synephrine is of particular interest (and concern) to segments of the sports nutrition and food supplement industry as it can be sourced naturally, though it also appears in the WADA list of doping substances. As a consequence, athletes cannot ingest products with synephrine and it has to be determined at country level whether  C. aurantium subps. amara with synephrine content are permitted under national law and practices. Warnings may be considered, again at national level, to inform athletes.

A similar situation occurs with octopamine, though allowed levels have not been set in most countries and it appears to be naturally present in very low levels.

More generally, in the EU context, the natural source of the extracts is of particular relevance, with synthetic versions normally clashing with the Novel Foods Regulation; this applies to extracts not only synephrine and octopamine, that are regulated under doping (if it exists) or medicinal legislation, but to dozens of other molecules. It is increasingly reported that substances presented as natural are in fact of synthetic origin, either because the substance is truly absent in the plant (an apparent case of scientific and technical fraud), because it is available in nature but in minute quantities, or because of costs. Companies should be aware of the difference betwen natural and synthetic, ensure that they have the skill to evaluate and test their supply, and recognize that analytical methods to discriminate between natural and synthetic are increasingly reliable and available to enforcement bodies.

– Sports Nutrition Team –

Plant Food Supplement science and regulation meet up in Brussels

Regulators from 19 European countries, from China and the USA, debated with PlantLIBRA’s (PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) project partners on outcomes and strategies to tackle  priorities in the science of  plant food supplements. The discussions took place during PlantLIBRA’s first Policy Advisory Board (PAB) meeting held last 27th and 28th  of September in Brussels. Francesco Carlucci of the EC Directorate General for Health and Consumers, who attended the meeting, expressed that the DG Health and Consumers is following the research project with interest and that discussions within the Directorate are ongoing on health claims on botanicals. PlantLIBRA is investigating the benefits of botanicals.

Another of the project’s outcomes, a meta-database being developed for plant food supplements, was presented and raised great interest among participants. PAB chairman Mr Joris Geelen of Belgium’s Federal Public Service (FPS) noted the database’s value for experts and policy makers dealing with quality assurance and assessment of risks and benefits of plant food supplements. Furthermore, the board’s members asked for clearer guidelines to interpret scientific evidence on botanicals. Catherine Ecclestone from the EC’s Research Directorate also participated in the meeting.

With this fruitful exchange, PlantLIBRA researchers continue progress to facilitate science-based decision-making in the area of plant food supplements in the interest of consumers. The event was hosted by Belgium’s FPS, and organized in cooperation with the European Botanical Forum, the international food consultancy EAS and Hylobates Consulting, who are partners of the PlantLIBRA’s project.

 

PlantLIBRA (acronym of PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) is a project co-financed in the context of the 7th EU Framework Program. For more information on the project and plant food supplements, please visit http://www.plantlibra.eu/web/

 

– The PlantLIBRA Management Team-

Scientists of EU-funded R&D project meet policy makers to boost the science of plant food supplements

Regulators from across the world will work with the project’s nutritionists, toxicologists and other researchers to identify scientific priorities

Leading scientists of PlantLIBRA (PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) are meeting today with policy regulators of 19 European countries, from the European Commission, from China and from the United States. The meeting will take place in Brussels on the 27th and the 28th of September. Researchers will present project progress and expected outcomes, while hearing from policymakers how they can help facilitate science-based decision-making in this area.

Plant extracts have for centuries provided health benefits to consumers. The use of botanical ingredients, while growing across Europe and worldwide, is facing uncertainty in both regulation and science which may limit its future development. PlantLIBRA has brought scientist together in order to provide more data, knowledge and an enhanced science-based decision-making framework to assess benefits and risks of plant food supplements, with the ultimate goal of benefiting consumers.

The event, which is not open to the public, is PlantLIBRA’s first Policy Advisory Board (PAB)  meeting. It is hosted by Belgium’s Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food chain safety and Environment, and organized in cooperation with international food consultancy EAS and the European Botanical Forum, partners of the PlantLIBRA’s project. Mr Joris Geelen of Belgium’s FPS Health is the chair of PlantLIBRA’s PAB.

Hylobates Consulting of Italy, another partner of PlantLIBRA, will present progress in the development of risk-benefit assessment methods for botanicals and discuss with participants the best approach to improve regulatory decisions about plant food supplements in the European Union.

About PlantLIBRA

PlantLIBRA (acronym of PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) is a project co-financed in the context of the 7th EU Framework Program. It began in June 2010 and represents a consortium from four continents, made up of 25 universities and public research institutions, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), industry and non-profit organizations.

– The PlantLIBRA Management Team-

PlantLIBRA goes to Brussels

PlantLIBRA partners (PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) are preparing to meet in Brussels the 27th and the 28th of September with policy regulators of 19 European countries, and authorities of China and the USA, to present project progress and discuss outcomes and on-going activities. Project goal is to provide EU and national policy regulators with an enhanced science-based decision-making framework to evaluate and assess benefits and risks of plant food supplements. The first PlantLIBRA Policy Advisory Board (PAB) meeting will be hosted by Belgium’s FPS Health, Food chain safety and Environment, and is organized in cooperation with the European Advisory Services (EAS), one of PlantLIBRA partners working on the project’s policy implications.

The event will promote discussion on plant food supplements between actors of policy and science. The actors of the regulatory field will learn from the expected outcomes of the project and through this exchange, the PlantLIBRA researchers will also be able to get the needed insights for the elaboration of adequate methodologies and accessible databases for an improved risk benefit assessment specific to plant food supplements.

The PlantLIBRA Management Team

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 –

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

%d bloggers like this: