MEPs told food supplements safer than mobile phones and drugs

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food supplements, Vitamin, European union, Nutrition

Mooted restrictions on high-dose food supplements by various pieces of European food law are disproportionate to the public risk posed, according to pan-European law reform group, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH).

In an open letter to Members of the European Parliament’s Committee for the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), the UK-based ANH executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk, wrote that the threat to public safety of pharma and mobile phones had been understated while that of food supplements had been exaggerated.

This resulted in a situation, via the recent and ongoing introduction of European Union food and food supplements law, where the industry was,“facing regulatory pressure that could see the vast majority of beneficial dosages of nutrients banned.”

Ongoing deliberations about safe upper limits (SULs) of nutrients in food supplements and other pieces of legislation such as the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) were also posing a threat to market freedoms.

“Poly-herbal products originating from non-European traditional medicinal cultures, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, are also set to have a particularly rough ride in the years ahead, many potentially falling between the two stools of European law designed for traditional herbal medicines and food supplements respectively,”​ Dr Verkerk wrote.

At the same time, evidence highlighting the hazards of consuming certain pharmaceuticals and using mobile phones, was being ignored, he wrote.

Action

ANH submitted two petitions. One calls for the EU’s risk assessment and management process for food supplements to be rethought.

The other calls for a reassessment of the dangers of​low intensity electromagnetic fields that emanate from mobile phones.

The food supplements petition calls for:

· a reassessment of individual nutrient forms (such as vitamin D2 versus D3 or iron sulphate versus iron bisglycinate)

· a weighting to be attached to potential adverse effects (so a vitamin C-induced loose bowel would have less weight than ultra high dose vitamin A-induced hepatotoxicity)

· a rationalisation of harm risk if recommended dosage levels are exceeded (where the risk of harm is low as in the case of calcium)

· a rationalisation of the ”binary”​ approach that either allows or bans nutrients in favour of warning labels where appropriate for various sub-groups of populations

· a reality check with suggested models such as that proposed by the German risk assessor, the BfR.

Both petitions can be accessed here​.

Verkerk’s open letter questioned whether what the ANH views as draconian regulations are not the result of “the sheer gravity of corporate influence on policy makers and regulators”.

He added: “…if regulatory initiatives, particularly in Europe, are not altered, the maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals allowed in food supplements will be lower than those found in a single junk food meal.”

In the case of selenium, consumers could be “limited on a daily basis to the amount of selenium found in just one-third of a brazil nut!”

Related topics: Suppliers, Supplements

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