Chris Whitehouse of UK and Belgian-based The Whitehouse Consultancy, which works with companies and trade associations across Europe, told NutraIngredients.com that the motion is a strongly worded message to the EC and shows MPs fully endorse the policy objectives of high dose supplement advocates, Consumer for Health Choice (CHC).
He said the House of Commons motion, which is the latest in a series of similar calls from UK politicians, also reflects the success of the recent CHC Running out of Time campaign whereby consumers sent one million postcards to their MPs seeking action on the retention of high potency levels.
Proposals for MPLs for vitamins and minerals in food supplements under Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive were expected to be published by the Commission early this year but, as of now, there is no indication as to when the figures will be released so, continued Whitehouse, the game is still wide open:
“The MPLs are proving to be a highly sensitive political issue in the UK, particularly in the run up to the parliamentary elections, which are expected to be held in early May, and the Commission will be reluctant to be seen to influence any outcome with the publication of the figures before then.
And, as far as we understand it, there are no Commission working groups currently evaluating the MPLs or no meetings scheduled with representatives of the EU food safety authorities on the same topic, so data on the levels are unlikely to be in the public domain this side of summer,” added the consultant.
Whitehouse, who has actively involved in the area of nutrient levels since 1992, said the onus is now on the newly appointed Commissioner John Dalli to address the topic but he notes that he has inherited a lot of legislative loose ends, and he also points out that it remains a difficult task to achieve a consensus on the MPLs in the bloc.
“Nevertheless, the Commissioner should recognise that this is an issue that is not simply going to go away. He needs to take a pragmatic and proportionate approach to the setting of MPLs to ensure that the final figures do not impact heavily on the small and medium sized enterprise (SMEs) sector or encroach on consumer choice in Europe,” warns Whitehouse.
The settling of maximum levels in supplements and functional foods hinges around the weight given to nutrients derived from other food sources.
Conservative member states such as Germany and France argue more weight should be given to regular dietary sources for a host of nutrients including popular vitamins and minerals and therefore maximum levels for these nutrients should be restricted in supplements and functional foods.
The liberal position as advocated by the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden, insists that even when nutrients from all dietary sources are considered, there is still a strong case for lifted dosage levels that have scientific backing.