La Leva di Archimede, a consumer association which fights to protect freedom of choice with particular emphasis on health matters and nutrition, is protesting to MEPs about proposed changes to the rules governing food supplement sales in the EU.
In a letter reproduced on the group's website, the group's president Vitale Onorato said that MEPs would soon be called on to vote on the proposed food supplement bill in the European Parliament.
Member States of the EU have arrived at a common position for the text of the directive, Onorato said, but there are still many doubts about the successive implementation of the control mechanisms it proposes to institute.
"These mechanisms, such as the determination of maximum dosage limits and the approval of substances to be used as sources of vitamins and minerals, will be implemented by purely administrative action, without any possibility of intervention of the European or national parliaments or even of the governments of the Member States themselves," the letter said.
As a result of this, La Leva di Archimede is rallying support form consumers for a delay in the implementation of the directive, and is calling on MEPs to intervene "so as to safeguard the free availability of supplements with dosages and ingredients that are effective for the prevention of illness and are able to optimise health" .
The fear is that the cumbersome directive might lead to a number of products currently available might disappear from the market. Some of these products are vital for the health and well being of consumers, the letter argues, and as such their future should be safeguarded at all cost.
Onorato said that thousands of European consumers had already written directly to their MEP or signed the petition on the La Leva website.
He said that the new directive was likely to go against the interests of consumers by establishing restrictions on the availability of products which are very popular and are used to maintain good health, as well as hindering the exercise of non conventional medicine by limiting the future availability of nutritional health products.
It would also be a disaster for public health, he argued, because it would eliminate an important instrument of prevention.
Furthermore, it is likely to have a significant adverse impact on small and medium size enterprises in Europe, which could find themselves in difficulty as the directive will slant market conditions in favour of the big players.
"These are serious allegations," Onorato admitted, "but they are not without foundation. For example, the requirement that all vitamin and mineral sources be approved and given dosage limits will inevitably eliminate from the European market many perfectly safe products that are available today."
The letter goes on to list a number of other apparent inconsistencies between the Commission's directive and other proposed legislation from EU organisations, as well as offering cogent arguments in favour of maintaining the status quo and keeping the European food supplement market out of the hands of a minority of major multinational companies which already dominate the food and pharmaceutical markets.