The European sports nutrition sector is stringently regulated and not awash with contaminated products, the industry has confirmed in a new booklet aimed at public and politicians alike.
The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) produced What is Sports Nutrition? in the wake of ongoing busts of sports nutrition products over stimulants and steroids, heavy metals and other substances.
But it says the incidents are relatively isolated and that laws are in place to promote a legitimate sector.
“We will be using it as part of our ongoing communication with political figures and decision makers,” spokesperson Mayar Raouf told us.
In a statement the group said, “a lack of understanding over the role and use of sports nutrition continues to exist amongst political leaders and the public, with the trade body launching a new booklet to correct popular misconceptions over sports nutrition products.”
Sports foods are regulated under general EU general food law after the recent dismantling PARNUTS regulation that governed foods for particular uses like sports foods. But the European Commission has asked for a report into the sector.
In defending the sector, ESSNA chair Dr Adam Carey said: “The fact is that sports nutrition products are used regularly by members of the public, in addition to professional sportspeople, and can help considerably in improving training performance, hydration and recovery at whatever level of participation.”
“Our industry is a very vigilant one, and we work extremely hard to ensure that every company in our sector adheres to the very strict regulations in place to govern the content of products. By law sports nutrition products can only contain vitamins, minerals and food and herb ingredients – and no legitimate product should contain anything you would not find in commonplace foodstuffs.”
The booklet notes that, “it has been the fringe, ‘black market’ products (mostly from the United States) that have nefariously found their way into European shops and internet sites that have been responsible for the media reports, which have given rise to this unfair impression.”
“In fact, “hormonal” (steroid-like) products and strong stimulant products have been banned for several years in most European countries. Even simply stating or implying that a product increases testosterone or some other hormone (whether it does so or not) will cause that product to be deemed 'medicinal' and not allowable for sale as a ‘food supplement’.”
“So in fact, clear legislation has long been in place to protect consumers from any potentially dangerous ingredients or misleading claims and it is actually ‘black market’ products that are virtually always the source of controversy.”