The conference, which will be attended by government officials from Russia and Ukraine, candidate countries such as Romania and Bulgaria and the current EU member states, is organised by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) in cooperation with the Czech Association for Special Products (CASP), the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) and the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA).
It is the fourth in a series of world-wide dialogues aimed at creating a common understanding and approach to regulations of supplements within food law.
The 2002 Food Supplement Directive is now part of food law in every existing member state, and while the detailed application of the regulations and their potential expansion to embrace a wider range of ingredients will continue for several more years, new EU members must now adapt to accommodate the EU model and its potential developments.
For most, this presents difficulties, particularly in changing cultural attitudes and practices. The aim of the Prague conference is to help the regulators and the manufacturers to understand the broad range of issues associated with food supplement regulation.
Many other countries that are not members of the EU are also looking closely at changing their regulatory frameworks. According to IADSA, more than 50 governments around the world are currently looking at modifying their regulations on food supplements. The importance of the European market and the scale and scope of its regulatory model makes it of key international interest.
The conference opens with reviews of the issues that are putting pressure on the industry, particularly the dramatic rise in new regulations in the last five years and the repercussions for ingredients, innovation and technical complexity of products.
Changes in consumer preferences and behaviour will be explored and the similarities in national regulations and the differences that still remain will be examined. The Czech Republic will show how it is adapting to the changes and its vision of the future.
Basil Mathioudakis, the European Commission (DG Sanco) official leading the process of establishing a legislative framework for food supplements, will explain the next stages of the Directive and the processes and issues that need to be addressed in establishing maximum levels of vitamins and minerals and in the potential expansion of the Directive to include other ingredients.
The rest of the first day is devoted to the problematic issues and experiences of ensuring consumer safety by effective risk assessment and management of vitamins and minerals including the establishment of upper safe levels, the meaningful interpretation of assessments and their application as policy and practice, and a proposed model for consideration.
Sweden and UK will set out their current approaches and the panel of speakers will discuss all the issues with the audience.
The second day looks beyond vitamins and minerals to the growing diversity of other ingredients which now make up the major component of food supplements. The role of different types of ingredients and the direction of future research will be reviewed. It will be shown how the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is being modified and applied to embrace other ingredients with example results of selected substances such as amino acids.
There is specific focus on the safety assessment models under consideration for botanicals which are traditionally and widely used throughout the world but for which there is no globally accepted model.