Hung jury on ECJ supplement maximum levels verdict

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The Alliance for Natural Health Europe (ANH) says the European Court of Justice has delivered a “mixed bag” with its recent verdict on upper safe levels (USLs) for nutrients in food supplements across the EU.

Robert Verkerk, ANH scientific and executive director said the ruling confirmed a flawed approach to establishing USLs across the European Union, but said it contained positive elements.

The ECJ ruling states that the EU’s member states can not set MPLs at low levels unless “genuine”​ and “real”​ risks can be demonstrated

“We feel that this 'supreme view' from the highest court in Europe could pave the way for preventing disproportionate bans on particular molecular forms of nutrients that are known to be safe (and beneficial) at supplemental doses currently used,”​ Verkerk said.

The fact the ruling highlighted label warnings on food supplements as an adequate means to warn consumers about any potential health problems for particular groups or users, was also welcomed.

The ruling can be found here​.

But Verkerk said the ruling still backed a scientific method that mandated relatively-dose supplementation.

“These principles on which USLs are to be set have not been established using proper scientific methods, nor have they been validated against real data on beneficial or harmful intakes,”​ he said.

“But of course the ECJ judges are not scientists and they are simply following the law, not appreciating its scientific weaknesses.”

For more on the ANH’s critique of those scientific methods click here.


The ruling has been largely backed by EU trade groups the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) and the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA).

“This will be useful in discussions with member states especially those that have advocated basing USLs on multiples of recommended daily intakes such as Denmark and Belgium,” ​said EHPM regulatory affairs director, Lorène Courrège, last week.

Patrick Coppens, the secretary general of ERNA, said the ruling would restrict the capacity of member states to base USLs on “hypothetical calculations” ​and observed that national courts now had clear guidelines upon which to base USLs.

The ECJ ruling, prompted by a challenge to USLs set in France and led by the supplements manufacturer Solgar, fills a vacuum created by the fact that USLs have not yet been set at EU level despite member state and European Commission discussions that have gone on since the Food Supplements Directive became law in 2002.

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