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Nutritional labelling of infant formulas is, unsurprisingly, a heavily regulated area, meaning tight rules around the nutrients they contain. ISO has an industry-recognized series of International Standards for the determination of such nutrients, the latest of which has just been published.

Optimizing a baby’s healthy development is the objective of infant formulas, with many national regulations around what they contain and the level of nutritional quality they need to meet. The basis of many of these requirements is laid down in International Standards developed by Codex Alimentarius [1], also known as the “Food Code”.

Methods for determining the level of specific nutrients in these products abound, but many are outdated or not validated for all types of infant formula that are currently on the market. What’s more, having multiple methods makes correct labelling tricky to monitor.

To enable the verification of compliance to labelling, a number of ISO International Standards were developed as part of the SPIFAN project (Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals), managed by AOAC INTERNATIONAL [2] in cooperation with ISO and the International Dairy Federation (IDF). This project led to the development of standard method performance requirements and methods of analysis for 20 or more priority nutrients in infant formula and adult nutritionals.

The latest in this series is ISO 23443, Infant formula and adult nutritionals – Determination of β-carotene, lycopene and lutein by reversed-phase ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (RP-UHPLC). Lutein, β-carotene and lycopene are among the carotenoids present in human milk and are often added to infant formula and adult nutritionals, with lutein being important for vision and cognitive function and β-carotene providing provitamin A activity.

Erik Konings, Convenor of the working group that developed the standards, said they are a big win for the infant formula industry, and for the consumer, as they are the result of true international cooperation to protect consumer health and facilitate trade.

“These standards provide an effective way of demonstrating compliance with national and international regulations as they represent a globally harmonized method of testing in line with other standards-developing organizations in the sector, such as AOAC INTERNATIONAL and the IDF,” he said.

“What’s more, this cooperation has been much appreciated by Codex, a key ISO partner, as it is essential for global consistency and improved quality overall.”

ISO 23443 and the other standards in the series were developed by working group WG 14, Vitamins, carotenoids and other nutrients, of technical committee ISO/TC 34Food products, the secretariat of which is held jointly by AFNOR and ABNT, ISO’s members for France and Brazil. They are available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

  1. The Codex Alimentarius was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in 1963 to develop harmonized international food standards that protect consumer health and promote fair practices in the food trade.
  2. AOAC INTERNATIONAL brings together government, industry and academia to establish standard methods of analysis that ensure the safety and integrity of foods and other products that impact public health around the world.

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