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Food supplements are safest foodstuffs: Report

By Shane Starling , 11-Jul-2012
Last updated on 11-Jul-2012 at 18:03 GMT2012-07-11T18:03:40Z

Food supplements are safest foodstuffs: Report

Food supplements and herbal products are the safest bodily inputs with the risk of death of using them less than 1 in 10 million, about as likely as being struck and killed by lightning, according to a report from the Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH-Intl).

The group which has fought hard against what it sees as draconian and unnecessary European Union legislation to restrict supplement market access and promotion, said adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals were 62,000 times more likely to kill a UK citizen than taking a food supplement, and 7,750 times more likely than herbal remedies.

“These figures tell us not only what activities an individual is most or least likely to die from, but also what the relative risks of various activities are to society as a whole,” said ANH-Intl executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk PhD.

“It puts some real perspective on the actual risk of death posed by food supplements and herbal remedies at a time when governments are clamping down because they tell us they’re dangerous.”

Dr Verkerk added, “When compared with the risk of taking food supplements, an individual is around 900 times more likely to die from food poisoning and nearly 300,000 times more likely to die from a preventable medical injury during a spell in a UK hospital. The latter is on a par with the risk of death from active military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.” 

He said the figures would be sent to politicians and hoped it would help increase pressure on them to oppose further “regulatory burdens” in areas like health claims and product approvals.

“Governments justify the increasingly elaborate and restrictive new laws affecting natural health products on grounds of public safety.”

“They argue that reducing consumer access to food supplements and herbal remedies, with the consequent negative impacts on small businesses manufacturing, distributing and selling such products, is in society’s interest. But the evidence is simply not there – where are the bodies?”  

The research was conducted by Ron Law, a New Zealand-based management consultant. It was part funded by Neal’s Yard Remedies.

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