Proposals for the new directive, officially to cover 'foods intended to meet the expenditure of intense muscular effort, especially for sports people', could be published early next year, according to the new European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA). But so far industry has had little input into the draft legislation.
An unofficial draft of the text suggests that it could pose significant problems for the sector. Maximum limits on the muscle recovery substance creatine could be drastically reduced (the early draft recommends not exceeding 3g daily, well below current levels on the market and much below loading levels) and there could also be serious limitations on amino acids.
"There are sufficient concerns here to warrant urgent discussion with the Commission," Chris Whitehouse, advising the new association on strategy and lobbying, told NutraIngredients.com.
Whitehouse added that although the Commission has not consulted any of the manufacturers concerned, it has however had discussions with European trade associations.
"Most of the companies are not members of the trade associations as they have never needed to be. And the associations have members in a wide range of sectors so they cannot properly focus on this one area," claims Whitehouse.
Fearing that the Commission has already made substantial progress in finalising the text, the specialist sector has begun to organise itself so that it can enter into dialogue with those involved in the legislation and try to prevent an adverse impact on its products.
The alliance already has 12 members, including industry leaders TwinLab, Maximuscle Europe, EAS and MET-Rx Europe. Areas to be discussed when ESSNA meets Commission members will include the proposal to automatically prohibit all substances added to the Olympic Committee's banned substances list.
The presence and amount of other ingredients such as caffeine, B vitamins and proteins also looks set to be strictly monitored and come under new labelling laws.
The European sports nutrition market is forecast to grow by 8.4 per cent between 2002-2009, according to market analysts Frost & Sullivan. The current structure of the European market is already a significant barrier to growth but new Europe-wide legislation may not make things any easier. The creatine market is already suffering from severe price pressure. Restrictions on daily intake and even its presence on the market present a considerable threat to the sector.
"We are not aiming to become another trade association but we want to provide a clear and loud voice for this sector," said Whitehouse.
For information on joining the association, contact the Whitehouse Consultancy on +44 20 7222 4179.