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When the United States Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention, a private non-governmental organization, launched the sixth edition of the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC; previously published by the Institute of Medicine), it emphasized open-source revisions and comments. The compendium of non-binding purity, quality and identity standards for food ingredients (including flavors) now offers free and open access for revisions on its site. According to Jim Griffiths, USP’s vice president of food and dietary supplement standards, the organization encourages public comment and input, ensuring opportunities for the addition of new monographs and methods. “This is transparent,” he says. “It’s a brand new model.”
The print component of the FCC, while containing information analogous to the fifth edition, features a new standardized layout. Flavor materials, traditionally presented in a table at the rear of the text, are now incorporated as standard monographs in the main listing. In addition, IR spectra have been incorporated into the bodies of the corresponding monographs. A new edition of the print component will be published every two years, with supplements appearing between editions. Meanwhile, the online component of the FCC provides searchable fields.
Griffiths sees recent food safety issues as demonstrative of the need for food ingredient standards. USP’s chief science officer Darrell Abernethy adds, “With the increasing globalization of the food supply, the availability of pure and safe foods is more important than ever.” USP has been liaising with industry groups to discuss the improvement of food quality and the public health consequences. The group’s goals include the inclusion of more flavor ingredients. While Griffiths acknowledges harmonization of any kind is a long way off, he believes closer ties to the flavor industry are a first step.