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IPA moves to Europe to be at hub of probiotics regulations

By Lorraine Heller , 27-Jul-2009

The International Probiotics Association (IPA) is relocating its headquarters to Europe, a move that comes just a few months before the group expects to be accepted into the Codex Alimentarius.

The relocation to Zurich, Switzerland, is designed to bring the organization closer to regulatory action related to the healthy bacteria, said IPA director general Ioannis Misopoulos.

“Most of the global regulatory platforms are in Europe, so we’ve moved the IPA offices to Zurich in order to be closer to this regulatory environment and the changes occurring,” Misopoulos told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

“The growing market, the need for consistency and the push for more guidelines makes it critical to be at the heart of all these changes,” he said.

IPA, which represents the international probiotics industry, has been based in the USA since it was founded in 2001. The association counts some of the leading probiotic firms amongst its members, and aims to be a network between academia, researchers and industry.

Codex

The ‘regulatory platforms’ it now seeks to be closer to are in large part centered around the activities of Codex Alimentarius.

As the food guidelines arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Codex sets out recommendations relating to foods and food ingredients.

IPA applied around two years ago to receive observer status to Codex. This status allows non governmental organizations to take part in Codex activities by participating in discussions.

Misopoulos said IPA is now in the “final stages” of acceptance, and expects to be granted observer status within “the next few months”.

By being involved in Codex, IPA hopes to contribute to discussions related to probiotics, such as setting standards, definitions or levels for different products.

One example of such dialogue currently occurring within Codex is debate over what constitutes a ‘fermented milk’. This discussion, which has been going on for over a year, could have potential implications on the probiotics market, but IPA has had no input as it has not yet been granted observer status to Codex.

Another topic likely to generate interest and debate moving forward is the establishment of guidelines for the standardization of probiotics. The absence of clear guidelines, as well as the absence of a legal definition for the term ‘probiotic’, has often been cited as contributing to an uneven marketplace.

IPA World Congress

The overall regulatory framework and developments for probiotics will be covered in a Codex/FAO presentation at IPA’s World Congress next year.

Tom Heilandt from Codex/FAO will discuss what is to come from these agencies, as well as the issues of standardization and probiotic definition.

The IPA World Congress takes place every two years and is designed to bring together industry, scientists and the medical community to discuss the latest developments in probiotics.

The next event is due to take place in Miami on April 16-17, 2010, where experts from across these sectors will give presentations on biotechnology and the international regulatory environment, as well as the most recent clinical data.

IPA said registration for the event will be possible via its website www.ipaworldcongress.com , which is expected to go live in September.

Contact details for IPA’s new headquarters, where Misopoulos will be based as of next month, can be found here .

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