Codex to discuss ginseng standard

Related tags Ginseng

The Codex Commission, a body that sets global guidelines on food,
will discuss on Monday whether to endorse a draft standard on
ginseng that effectively recognizes the herbal's status as a food
rather than drug, writes Dominique Patton.

The standard proposed by the Korean government a few years ago has made slow progress under the Codex decision makers because of diverse opinions on the herbal's status as well as a significant number of different species used on the market.

However the Codex regional committee in Asia succeeded in drawing up a first draft standard last year, which will be discussed by the Commission at its meeting in Rome next week. If the Commission endorses the draft, this goes some way towards its acceptance as a food - Codex only draws up guidelines on foods.

"We consider this standard to be very valuable,"​ said David Pineda, director of regulatory affairs at the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA​).

"In some countries, even within Europe, ginseng is not listed as a food ingredient and so if Codex makes a standard, this is recognition at an international level that the herbal is a food,"​ he told

Among the countries that regulate ginseng as a medicine are Germany, the biggest herbals market in Europe.

However Pineda noted that even if the Commission decides to endorse the standard - at which point it can also opt to make it an international, rather than regional standard - the differences of opinion will continue to hinder progress in the following stages.

The standard is only at step five of the Codex decision-making process. If endorsed by the Commission, it must go back to a committee, expected to be the committee for processed fruit and vegetables, for further discussion before reaching the final ratification process.

IADSA has proposed that to help advance the standard, it should be applied only to one species of ginseng - panax ginseng​ - avoiding the task of integrating all other species into a single standard.

"No member countries have submitted comments yet so it is not very clear where they will stand on this,"​ added Pineda.

The ginseng standard includes requirements on quality, methods of production of the herbal and product characteristics.

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