Nutrient profiling irrelevant for supplements, says EHPM

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food supplements Nutrition European food safety authority

Food supplements should be exempt from European nutrient profiling
regulations because their fat, salt and sugar levels are scant
enough not to warrant concern, according to an industry group.

The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said food supplements should be added to several food groups the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has suggested may be exempt from the health claim rules. In a response to EFSA's opinion published last week, Brussels-based EHPM stated "supplements should be exempt because their levels of sugar, fat and salt are generally very low or absent." "We are surprised that there is no mention of exemption for food supplements,"​ said EHPM chairman Peter van Doorn. "Even supplements such as fish oils which have a high fat content should be exempt from the system, because food supplements are generally not seen as the main contributors to the normal diet."​EHPM called on the European Commission to "draw a clear line exempting food supplements from nutrient profiling"​ a declaration backed by fellow Brussels-based body, the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA). "Typically, food supplements are marketed in the form of capsules, tablets and pills and represent a maximum weight of 2g,"​ said ERNA chairman, Gert Krabichler. "Such forms do not contain significant quantities of energy, fat, sugar, and salt, and therefore do not add to the daily energy-intake of the consumer."​Food groups EFSA suggested might be up for exclusion include vegetable oils; spreadable fats; dairy products; cereals and cereal products; fruits and vegetables and fruit/vegetable products; meat and meat products; fish and fish products; and non-alcoholic beverages. EFSA is considering exempting these groups because their health benefits outweigh the fact they might be high in one or more of the designated 'unhealthy' ingredients such as a probiotic yoghurt that might draw a red flag because of its sugar content. But to the consternation of EHPM and ERNA and others, food supplements were overlooked in EFSA's opinion. EHPM, which represents more than 2000 specialist health product manufacturers across Europe, joined scientists and stakeholders last year at an EFSA scientific colloquium in Parma where the idea of exempting supplements won a lot of favour. "At the EFSA colloquium there seemed to begeneral agreement that food supplements should be exempt from the system,"​ van Doorn said. "We hope that the Commission will take this issue into further consideration."​ If the current timetable is met, nutrient profiling regulations will be in place by January, 2009. Nutrient profiling is based on the idea that foods high in fat, salt, sugar and certain other nutrients should be prevented from bearing health claims even if they also contain ingredients that would otherwise qualify them to do so.

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