Irish health stores fight EUs supplement directive

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food supplements European union

A petition by the Irish Association of Health Stores
(IAHS) calling for the European Commission to allow "higher
levels" for vitamin and minerals has been seen as a sign that the
industry has not given up battling proposals under the Food
Supplements Directive.

The petition calls for the commission and Irish government to "respect and retain our right as consumers to exercise freedom of choice in healthcare" and that access to "higher level" vitamin and mineral supplements should not be "eroded." The group fears the commission will set restrictive levels for supplements, delivering a blow for health conscious consumers who are turning to supplements. Under the Food Supplements Directive, the commission will draw up a list of maximum and minimum mineral and vitamin levels, which would then be applicable across all Member States. The move has been met with disdain by various groups over the past few years. This latest campaign has been seen as a "shot in the arm"​ for the larger movement to "save our supplements"​ by industry lobbyists at the Whitehouse Consultancy. ​ Chris Whitehouse, from the group's Consumers for Health Choice arm, said: "It will help to persuade the Commission to propose acceptable maximum permitted levels for nutrients in supplements. Consumers for Health Choice warmly welcomes the campaign in Ireland and is liaising closely with Jill Bell and others to ensure its success." ​ IAHS said the commission move would radically reduce the strength of all vitamin and mineral food supplements. President Jill Bell said: "If, as we suspect, the EU authorities are contemplating the reduction of permitted levels to pathetically low RDA levels, people who depend on higher levels to optimise their health will be denied this right." ​ Bell added that IAHS believed a large number of consumers were not aware of the regulation, which could spell the demise of "virtually all useful food supplements over the next two years." "It looks very likely that consumers will be denied the right to purchase a simple 1,000mg of vitamin C to guard against the common cold​," she said. Under the Food Supplements Directive, the European Food Safety Authority is to set maximum levels by the end of this year. The directive, agreed on in 2002, has two aims: to harmonise national legal provisions on food supplements and to establish an appropriate level of consumer protection for the use of food supplements in EU Member States. The directive also includes the Fortified Foods Regulation will set out rules for the addition of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to foods, and include a 'positive list' of fortifying substances, as well as minimum and maximum levels.

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