Friday, 21st July 2017
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The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today announced that it is holding a public consultation on the criteria for 5µg Vitamin D only supplements to be listed as suitable for infants in Ireland. The online consultation will be held from 28th June to 11th August 2017 and invites parents, caregivers, health professionals, food supplement manufacturers, food businesses and any interested parties to take part.

Currently, in line with national health policy in Ireland, parents and caregivers are advised to give infants (0-12months) a 5µg vitamin D only supplement daily, regardless of whether the infant is being breastfed or formula fed. Vitamin D is important for healthy bone development in infants. There is a wide range of infant vitamin D supplements on the market in Ireland which are allowed under EU law. These supplements however can contain various amounts of vitamin D, as well as other vitamins and minerals. This can make selecting a suitable infant 5µg vitamin D only supplement difficult.

To guide parents/caregivers and health professionals, the FSAI intends to develop a voluntary process to list 5µg vitamin D only food supplements that would be considered most suitable for infants in Ireland. To this end, the FSAI has established a Working Group of experts in vitamin D infant nutrition, food law enforcement, public health services in the HSE, as well as food supplement industry stakeholders. The Working Group developed criteria for listing food supplements suitable for providing 5µg vitamin D only to infants in Ireland, as set out in a draft guidance note which forms part of the consultation.

Food supplements must meet all the criteria laid out in the draft guidance note in order to be added to the list. Once a food business has placed its infant vitamin D only food supplement on the market, it may apply to the FSAI to have it added to the list. The FSAI will then assess the product against the criteria. If the supplement meets all the criteria, it will be added to the list which will be on the FSAI website and available for everyone to access. This voluntary process for maintaining the list will guide health professionals and parents/caregivers to choose a vitamin D only supplement most suitable for infants in an Irish context. In addition, this process marks a progressive step towards best practice for the protection of vulnerable groups which goes beyond food law.

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, the consultation will allow interested parties to comment on the draft guidance note before it is finalised.

“We have undertaken this action to ensure parents and caregivers will have a trusted source to help inform them of the 5µg vitamin D only food supplements available on the Irish market for their infant. People are often faced with complex information and multiple sources of information with regards to vitamin supplements. The consultation aims to bring a trusted source of information for parents and caregivers regarding vitamin D only food supplements. I would encourage anyone with an interest to make their views known about the criteria and the voluntary process.”

Before the guidance note is finalised for publication, the FSAI welcomes feedback from parents/caregivers, health professionals, environmental health officers, food supplement manufacturers, food businesses and any interested parties to ensure this process will work and that all aspects have been covered in the guidance note. This consultation is in the form of a survey which can be found here on the FSAI website: http://www.fsai.ie/consultations/ The consultation will remain open until 11th August 2017.

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