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Cassava products food standard update and international review at Codex Alimentarius

Date Published
 29 January 2009
Author
 Joe Lederman

By Joe Lederman and Charles Fisher
FoodLegal Lawyers and Consultants
© Lawmedia Pty Ltd, February 2009

In our article “Why Australian food companies need to consult with government on international food standards” in the December 2008 issue, our legal analysis of Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) Proposal P1002 mentioned the risks faced by Australian industry when attempts were made to harmonise Australian and New Zealand food standards with the international Codex Alimentarius Standards, irrespective of their possible inconsistency with Australian food consumption patterns.

Since publication of that article, the Codex Alimentarius Commission has released a Discussion Paper on Cyanogenic Glycosides to be discussed in March 2009. The Discussion Paper expressly mentioned that there has been a lack of quantitative data on hydrocyanic acid toxicity arising from consumption of food such as in relation to cassava-based products. The Discussion Paper then recommends obtaining further information in order to review the international Standard.

In the Risk Assessments on the effects of cyanogenic glycosides and in the Final Assessment Report on FSANZ Proposal P1002, FSANZ relied upon the Codex Alimentarius Standard for cassava flour when making its final recommendation. This Discussion Paper now reveals the international concern that there is insufficient data available in relation to cyanogenic glycosides. Hopefully FSANZ’s experience in relation to cyanogenic glycosides will lead to further research and international understanding of their effects on humans.

Declaration of interest: FoodLegal has acted for at least one or more Australian food manufacturers that produce foods that contain cassava-based ingredients.