CHC blows whistle on Commission over max levels

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food supplements directive, European union, European commission

The European Commission will be reported to the ombudsman for
showing "intransigence" and being unwilling to listen to demands to
keep high amounts for vitamins and minerals when it comes to
setting maximum levels.

This move is the latest attempt by the pressure group Consumers for Health Choice (CHC) to raise the importance of keeping high doses. The Commission is currently in the process of harmonizing levels across the bloc, under the Food Supplements Directive. Member states at the moment vary dramatically on maximum and minimum levels in minerals and vitamins, which would come to an end once Europe-wide unification is imposed. But many groups fear a heavy-handed approach could damage trade and consumer choice. At an annual parliamentary reception in the UK on Wednesday, CHC chairman Mike Peet said the group had been given "encouraging"​ support but added: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and well-meaning platitudes." ​ Peet said: "The threat from Europe to the continued availability of hundreds of safe and popular higher potency supplements remains as great, if not greater, than it has ever been." ​ The reception was in the House of Commons to an audience of MPs, Peers, manufacturers, retailers, regulators and consumers. Peet blasted the Commission, and said that officials "have demonstrated intransigence of thinking and an unwillingness to listen.​" The group will now report the Commission to the ombudsman. He added: "The situation that has emerged in relation to the Food Supplements Directive is indicative of all the worst aspects of the European Union - an indifferent, aloof and unresponsive institution, unaccountable to and unheeding of the freedoms of individual citizens, determined to foist a one-size-fits-all approach on diverse national traditions.​" In the past few months the pressure group has upped the ante, with tactics including an open letter to commission president José Manuel Barroso in an advert in the European Voice newspaper. In the letter Peet accused the Commission of being "aloof, distant and unresponsive"​ if it takes an overly restrictive approach. The group is showing no signs of giving up and said it will launch a series of advertisements, in many different languages, in specialist consumer and practitioner magazines around Europe. This would not be the first time CHC have threatened to report the commission to the ombudsman. A previous attempt in August failed as the group had not tried to resolve the difference with the commission. An ombudsman spokesperson told this attempt was dismissed as "inadmissible."​ The ombudsman has the power to investigate complaints about maladministration in the institutions and bodies of the European Union. Maladministration occurs if an institution fails to act in accordance with the law, fails to respect the principles of good administration, or violates human rights. This can include administrative irregularities, abuse of power, failure to reply or unnecessary delay.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy, Suppliers

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