Case not closed for high dose supplement campaign, ANH

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food supplements European parliament European union European commission

The EU Parliament Petitions Committee have voted to keep open five petitions that question the European Commission’s proposal to limit maximum levels of vitamins and minerals in the EU bloc under the Food Supplements Directive.

Robert Verkerk, scientific and executive director of Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) International, who argued the case for supporting the petitions said that Emma Mazzoni, chair of the Petitions Committee, has also referred the proposal back to the European Parliament's Committee on Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) for further scrutiny.

The petitions were filed two years ago by the ANH, and also by the Irish Association of Health Stores, the Irish Health Trade Association, the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland and a Swedish association of practitioners.

Scientific model questioned

According to Verkerk, the models being utilised by European authorities to determine upper safe limits (USLs) for vitamin and minerals used in food supplements are flawed and should be subject to proper scientific validation.

And he lodged a request at the petitions hearing that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as risk assessor and the Commission as risk manager should be forced to answer the scientific complaints raised by him and others in two peer reviewed papers in the journal Toxicology​.

Verkerk is calling on the Commission to halt its USL deliberations until new methods could be developed that better reflected the available science.

Under Article 194 of the EC Treaty, any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise his right of petition to the European Parliament to allow evaluation of lawmaking processes involving the European Commission and European Council.

Commission stance

The Commission, in an earlier published response to the petitions, said it considers Directive 2002/46/EC on food supplements and its future implementing measures, such as the establishment of maximum amounts for vitamins and minerals as "a valid instrument to assure that safe products are commercialised on the internal market."

In the process for setting the maximum permitted levels for supplements, the Commission said that it is working in close cooperation with stakeholders using formulas developed by stakeholders and with support of the stakeholders.

And the risk manager argues that that the claim by the petitioners that there are no recorded incidents of serious adverse effects caused by food supplements (classified as foods by the European legislation) in over 40 years of usage, has to be considered in the light of the fact that there is no system in place to systematically report possible adverse reactions that may be caused by foodstuffs.

The Commission also said that it finds totally unfounded and unsubstantiated the allegation by the petitioners that the risk management process will result in maximum permitted levels that will make up to 85 per cent of food supplements currently present to disappear from the market.

UK political support

A cross-party motion in the UK parliament in March called for the Commission to avoid imposing the MPLs on food supplements.

Chris Whitehouse of UK and Belgian-based The Whitehouse Consultancy, which works with companies and trade associations across Europe, told then that the motion was a strongly worded message to the EC and shows MPs fully endorse the policy objectives of other high dose supplement advocates, Consumer for Health Choice (CHC).

He said the House of Commons motion, which was the latest in a series of similar calls from UK politicians, also reflected the success of the CHC Running out of Time​ campaign whereby consumers sent one million postcards to their MPs seeking action on the retention of high potency levels.

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