Health claims amendment offers industry new opt-out hopes from supplement directive

Related tags Directive Eu food supplements European union Uk

An amendment to the nutrition and health claims regulation
currently being discussed by members of the European parliament
could give Britain an opt-out clause to the food supplements
directive being enforced across the EU from August this year,
reports Dominique Patton.

Industry and consumer campaign groups in the UK continue to fight the introduction of the EU food supplements directive to protect numerous products that contain ingredients not on the list approved by the new law.

One of the largest food supplement markets in Europe, the UK's industry also fears that permitted dosages of vitamins and minerals will be significantly lower under the directive than currently allowed on the market.

Opponents of the directive have mounted a sizeable campaign against it, bringing their case to the European court of justice at the beginning of the year.

But as they wait for the results of the hearing, not expected until June, campaigners have seen new hopes in a recent move by a Conservative member of the European Parliament, involved in discussions on the nutritional and health claims regulation.

MEP John Bowis has tabled an amendment to the proposed law in the form of two new clauses, which would allow supplements containing ingredients or dosages not permitted under the new directive to remain on the market where they had previously been available up to July 2002 provided they conform to the claims regulation.

Amendments to European legislation that override other laws are quite common, according to industry consultant Christopher Whitehouse, who believes this particular move has the potential to impact the supplements directive if it gains wider backing.

"Bowis is a former minister of health and known to be an expert in health issues. He is an influential member of the environment committee,"​ he told

"This will certainly focus political attention back onto the industry."

Although the Conservatives are the largest British party in the EU, the amendment would need the support of MEPs from the other UK parties to succeed.

"We are also asking the UK government to instruct the Food Standards Agency to brief MEPs around Europe to support this amendment,"​ said Whitehouse.

He claims that the campaign against the directive has secured political attention in the UK this year, partly thanks to the ECJ case focusing attention on the issue.

Health campaign groups are planning to distribute around 8 million leaflets during the upcoming general election in a bid to raise further political support.

Other moves suggest however that industry is preparing itself for the full implementation of the directive in August. Leading manufacturer Boots has already reformulated many of its products to comply with the law, and a number of dossiers have been submitted to food authorities to allow for ingredients not on the current positive list to remain on the market.

Related topics Regulation & Policy Suppliers

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