Message from the ICAAS President

I was invited to become the President of the International Council on Amino Acid Science from 1 January 2008. ICAAS exists to “explore and resolve scientific issues related to all matters of safety, quality and use of amino acids with particular emphasis on dietary use for humans”. I was particularly pleased to take on this role as ICAAS is in effect an essential cog in the science advisory structure with a vital role to play in providing regulators with information about the metabolism of amino acids in the body so that they can carry out their regulatory function efficiently. This scientific advisory role is something I am particularly interested in: Through our research grants and workshops, not to mention the scientists within our member organisations, ICAAS can play a significant part in ensuring that any regulations relating to the use of amino acids in food are based on sound science and, more importantly, are optimal. It is not sufficient for expert advice to be simply available: It is essential that this expert advice is brought to the attention of risk managers in a timely manner. In the risk governance field organisations like ICAAS play a pivotal role.

This said, ICAAS also has an interest in providing useful information on amino acids to the public. Amino acids play an important role in food supplements but members of the public need an independent and straightforward source of information on the functions of amino acids in the body and the potential benefits of supplements for different societal groups. Such consumer-oriented information provision is a new area for ICAAS but we intend to develop this activity over time. The importance of supplements in relation to healthy diets isn’t just a question for regions of the world with poor diets. The functional importance of amino acid supplements can also be of importance for societal groups in advanced countries.

Lastly, ICAAS also has a programme of work directed towards establishing quality standards for amino acid products so that when the risk governance standards are in place and the functional importance has been demonstrated consumers and industry can be assured about the product safety, efficacy and quality.