FSA dismisses Codex supplement conspiracy theory

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food supplements, Codex alimentarius

The UK’s Food Standards agency has published a blog entry dismissing an internet conspiracy theory that Codex Alimentarius is preparing to ban dietary supplements.

“A very persistent conspiracy theory has been appearing online and has been worrying some correspondents with the Agency,”​ wrote Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the Food Standards Agency.

According to the theory, Codex Alimentarius – described as a ‘mysterious’ international organisation – is preparing to make vitamin supplements only available with a prescription.

Wadge notes that a petition has even appeared on the Number 10 website to protest against this move, with more than 60,000 signatures.

“This story isn’t true,”​ wrote Wadge in a blog entry entitled Curiouser and curiouser.“Like other conspiracy theories, the truth is less dramatic. There’s actually no intention to restrict the use of food supplements in the UK to prescription only. In fact, the European Food Supplements Directive regulates supplements in this country.”

The blog explains that this directive contains a list of vitamin and mineral sources approved for use in food supplements. “This list is being revised by the European Commission and this may be where the confusion lies.”

Vitamin and mineral assessment

As part of this revision, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was tasked with assessing more than 500 vitamin and mineral dossiers before passing on its recommendations to the EC to be finalized.

This revision, which began in 2005, was completed in July this year. Although half of the dossiers could not be assessed due to a lack of evidence, EFSA found safety issues with very few nutrients.

The risk assessor processed 533 applications relating to 344 nutrients and identified safety concerns with 39 of them. But those with safety concerns were usually identified at certain levels and often in regard to particular population groups rather than being defined as unsafe per se.

“Rather than a reduction in the number of approved vitamin and mineral sources, a further 67 are set to be added and these changes will certainly not mean you will need a prescription to get your food supplements,”​ wrote Wadge.

Mysterious Codex

“Many conspiracy theories swirl around the internet about Codex and the various rules that it is claimed are going to be forced on us and our food,”​ stated the blog.

It explained that Codex was set up in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to develop food standards and guidelines for member countries.

“Its aims are to protect consumer health and ensure fair trade (…) Codex guidelines are not enforceable in law. They and Codex standards are recognised by the World Trade Organisation as reference texts that can be used to help resolve trade disputes,”​ concluded Wadge.

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