Europe’s new multilateral food supplements group says there is no inherent conflict between its big player-small player membership as all share the same goal of amending scientific requirements under the EU’s strict new health claim rules.
Food Supplements Europe (FSE) includes smaller companies participating via their national trade associations and larger players like BASF, DSM, Merck, Bayer and Herbalife – a membership seeking to build “credible and trustful relationships” with regulators over the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) and other matters.
“This has been a long time coming because the groups have not been aligned before,” said Ingrid Atteryd, chair of the Swedish food supplements association, Föreningen Svensk Egenvård, and FSE member.
“This is a small industry and we need to join resources and be united to achieve regulatory change. All our members want to achieve similar things in this area.”
But the Alliance for Natural Health-International (ANH-I), which represents smaller companies operating in natural and complementary medicine channels, questioned the group’s ability to achieve change – and retain unity.
“The premise that these groups have similar interests is complete rubbish,” said ANH-I executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk, PhD. “We are dealing with endless complaints under the NHCR and most of them stem from large companies reporting smaller companies for being in contravention of the NHCR or the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD).”
“It is ridiculous to say that these sectors have similar motivations when it is clear the NHCR and THMPD favour larger companies as it is they who have the most to gain from harmonisation so they can use the same product formulas and marketing across multiple markets. It is a skewed system favouring processed ingredients.”
Need for dialogue
The ANH-I has mounted legal action against various EU regulations in the past – and has stated others may follow that raise questions of proportionality – but Atteryd said court action is not yet on the agenda for FSE.
“It is better to have dialogue than go to court,” she said. “The regulation will change over time so I believe dialogue is the best way to achieve change.”
Föreningen Svensk Egenvård has about 80 members of which, “60-70 are smaller companies”, Atteryd said.
Founding FSE members are:
- the Brussels-based European Responsible Nutrition Alliance Nutrition (ERNA)
- food supplement associations in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Czech republic and Italy
- ingredient suppliers DSM, BASF, Kemin and Lonza, Alcon
- food supplement makers Amway, Herbalife, Merck, Bayer, Fine Foods, Capsugel and Innéov (Nestlé and L'Oréal JV)
Ric Hobby, CRN-UK chairman, vice president of worldwide regulatory, government and industry affairs at Herbalife International, and member of Food Supplements Europe (FSE) said a statement this week: “[FSE] is a unique partnership bringing together the vast technical and scientific expertise of company experts with the market and practical knowledge of national associations.”
“Through specific tools and programmes we aim to promote adherence to standards to ensure the safety and quality of food supplements on the EU market and to help shape a positive regulatory environment for the future.”