Supplement ban may breach EU law, says ANH

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Anh European union

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) has warned the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the proposed 2010 ban on certain vitamins and minerals contravenes EU law.

On 1 January 2010 the draft Regulation amending the EU Supplements Directive of 2002 is due to come into force meaning that any vitamin and mineral not on a new approval list will be banned.

The draft Regulation adds 69 additional vitamin and mineral forms to the existing list of 112 forms but according to the ANH this is inadequate and may even fly in the face of EU law.

Hundreds of products that have been selling freely in the UK and elsewhere will be banned under the proposals. The ANH claims that this is damaging for consumer choice but also makes little sense from a scientific point of view.

Vanadium ban

In its submission to the FSA, the ANH drew attention to the ban on all forms of vanadium.

Pointing to the opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that vanadium pentoxide has about the equivalent (relatively low) bioavailability as vanadium found naturally in foods like shellfish, the ANH said there is no evidence that certain forms of vanadium pose any risk to health at commonly recommended dosages.

According to the ANH, this means the carpet ban on vanadium makes little scientific sense but also conflicts with the ruling on its own case in the European Court of Justice in 2005.

Legal argument

The ANH said paragraph 73 of the ruling implies that a ban cannot be implemented by a competent authority unless a risk to public health following scientific risk assessment can be proven.

Back in 2004 the ANH mounted a legal challenge against the vitamin and mineral ban claiming that it infringes EU constitutional law and basic principles of free trade but the European Court of Justice ruled against the industry group. Now the ANH is again turning to the law to help defeat the draft Regulation.

“Member States need to review their decisions to implement the Commission’s proposed draft Regulation in the light of existing European case law, including that relating to our case that was ruled on in 2005,”​ said Robert Verkerk PhD, executive and scientific of the ANH.

Verkerk also made appeals to industry and EFSA. “The industry needs to get serious about submitting further dossiers including safety and bioavailability data for many of the ingredients that will be lost as of January next year,”​ said Verkerk. “We also need to see much more transparency and a level playing field in the evaluation process used by EFSA, as well as the way in which opinions are interpreted by the European Commission and Member States.”

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