PlantLIBRA present in University of Buenos Aires’ 14th International Congress of Internal Medicine

“Knowing the benefits, but also the adverse effects of dietary supplements is very important, explained PlantLIBRA project coordinator Prof Patrizia Restani last August 16th as she presented PlantLIBRA in the 14th International Congress of Internal Medicine, a major event in this specialty, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and organized by PlantLIBRA partner Hospital and Clinics “José de San Martín” of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). “The idea is not to cause alarm in the population, but to study plant food supplements and communicate if there are potential drug interactions or risk factors to the people who use them”, she added during her presentation. An additional problem was also posed by Prof. Dr. Roberto Iermoli, director of Teaching and Research Hospital and Clinics at UBA, who said that it is common for patients not to mention or deny to their doctor that they consume these products. “When completing the medical history, the doctor has to ask if the patient is using any substance, and the patient should report if they are taking any dietary supplement.” Moreover, in Argentina, only half of the ten dietary supplements of plant origin most consumed would have few reliable studies to convince a good family doctor, wrote Fabiola Czubaj reporting on the conference for the online presence of the newspaper La Nación.

Dr. Raul Pastor, Head of the Section Polyphenols, Wine and Health of the department of internal medicine of the UBA who studies the cardiovascular risks and benefits of supplements and explained the studies on benefits studied by health area by WP2 partners. He stressed as well the importance of effective communication and believes that the project is critical to improve the reference information for regulating the production, manufacturing, and marketing of dietary supplements based on botanicals. “The current situation is critical, with products that are offered and sold through informal channels such as the internet, with misleading advertisements and even toxic content” he continued.

Product quality is also key. So, experts agreed that not even grapefruit juice should be underestimated. “No plant is the problem, but the content of the product and the person has risk factors,” summed up Prof Restani.

The conference titled ”The PlantLIBRA project- Dietary supplements in human health” was organised by PlantLIBRA’s dissemination partners in cooperation with Hylobates Consulting, partner in charge of project management.

The complete article in Spanish tittled “Mitos y riesgos de los suplementos dietarios” can be found by clicking the link http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1500030-mitos-y-riesgos-de-los-suplementos-dietarios

– PlantLIBRA Management Team –

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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

Hylobates presents the PlantLIBRA Project in the journal Food & Function

Authors from Hylobates and the University of Milan explain the goals of the EC-funded project PlantLIBRA in the recently published online paper of the journal Food & Function: “The PlantLIBRA Project: how we intend to innovate the science of botanicals” by Luca Bucchini, Alejandro Rodarte and Patrizia Restani

The paper presents the consortium’s plan for improving the science of botanicals and risk and benefit assessment methodologies for plant food supplements (PFS). In this 4 year project, partners are working to expand and generate knowledge on PFS through systematic reviews, intake surveys, new studies on benefits, risks and new analytical findings to ultimately ensure a safer use of PFS by consumers. By doing so, they plan to address data, methodology and consensus gaps in cooperation with different stakeholders and decision makers in the PFS sector.

– Alejandro Rodarte  –

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-

Hylo and PlantLIBRA partners present proposal of risk-benefit approach for plant in food supplements

Hylobates scientist Dr. Antonella Guzzon presented the proposal of risk-benefit approach for plant in food supplements during PlantLIBRA’s first Policy Advisory Board (PAB) meeting in Brussels from the 27th to the 28th of September.  In this event, project partners discussed with policy regulators on the approaches to facilitate science-based decision-making in this area. Dr. Guzzon presented the approach in progress which, based on existing approaches for risk- benefit assessment, proposes to develop a framework for assessing the strength, consistency and biological plausibility of the evidence of the benefits and risks plant food supplements. Within this framework, to each kind of evidence (in vivo evidence, tradition of use, animal and human evidence) related to a specific claimed effect for a certain plant food supplement a category (from convincing evidence to insufficient) would be as attributed.  This should enable the risk assessor to make a statement on the result of the risk-benefit assessment, i.e. whether risks or benefits are dominating, explained Dr. Guzzon. Additionally, the model considers prior beliefs on the existing scientific knowledge on the botanical and how new studies and data can change those prior beliefs. Finally, in order to make the process transparent, all these steps will clearly described, In this sense an open web source accessible to everybody and therefore exposed to open criticism, will be used to develop the model for risk-benefit assessment of plant food supplements.

  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

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