A leaked draft of the planned directive, revealed that the European Commission was proposing to place strict limits on ingredients like creatine and some of the amino acids.
Fearing that the Commission was close to finalising the text of the draft directive, a number of leading sports supplement companies, organized under a newly formed group, the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), set up meetings with European and UK regulators in a bid to make an industry voice heard.
"Instead of producing a draft directive, the Commission has decided to circulate the working document to all 25 member states, with a long list of footnotes, inviting them to comment before meeting in October," Chris Whitehouse, advising the new association on strategy and lobbying, told NutraIngredients.com.
"This is a tremendous achievement as ESSNA was only launched at the beginning of this year. We have created an additional consultation process and the chance to contribute to the creatine limits," he added.
An unofficial draft of the text suggested that maximum limits on the muscle recovery substance creatine should not exceed 3g daily, well below current levels on the market and much below loading levels.
However ESSNA requested the chance to submit a detailed paper reviewing more recent evidence on creatine [the Commission report is said to be based on research from several years ago] to support the efficacy and safety of higher levels.
"Studies have shown that creatine can be taken safely at doses of up to 21g per day for two years," said Zef Eisenberg, the founder of the UK's biggest sports supplement company, Maximuscle, and a member of ESSNA.
"Bodybuilders will take what they want anyway but we want to avoid having to recommend these amounts on our labels. This would also restrict further research into creatine," he added.
Creatine is one of the leading products in most sports supplement ranges and new variants of the ingredients are being heavily researched by Maximuscle.
The review, to examine more than 100 peer-reviewed studies on creatine, will be completed this week and submitted to the Commission and UK's Food Standards Agency.
The sports supplement sector is growing rapidly, significantly outpacing growth in the more traditional vitamins and minerals categories. In the UK, second only to Germany in terms of size, sports drinks and supplements grew 37 per cent in 2002 to reach a retail value of £166 million in 2003, according to Mintel.