UK group ups ante in EU battle to protect high-dose food supplements

UK group ups ante in EU battle to protect high-dose food supplements

Related tags European union

UK group Consumers for Health Choice (CHC) says meetings with “5-6” Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) last week shows widespread concern over mooted changes that would restrict high-dose food supplements across the EU.

Products that currently contain 1000mg of nutrients like vitamin C may soon be restricted to levels closer to 100mg if EU harmonisation is achieved, the supplements industry warns.

A CHC secretariat member told us the group was happy to see MEPs give commitments to take concerns to their respective parties over market and consumer choice damage caused by low-dose EU harmonisation.

They will also table questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France and write letters to EC health commissioner, Tonio Borg.

At the same time CHC has launched a social media campaign and will continue its lobbying efforts with MEPs.

“The MEPs have been very supportive of our campaign,”​ she said. “There are many countries that safely sell higher dose supplements like the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland that will be badly affected if the conservative forces like the pharma sector and EU member states like France and Germany get their wish of harmonised low maximum levels.”

“So these meetings were important especially given this vote when it comes will only be by Parliament committee, not a full plenary vote.”


The issue of maximum permitted levels (MPLs) for nutrients in food supplements in the EU has rumbled on since 2002 when the EU Food Supplements Directive (FSD) became law. The Directive requires the establishment of harmonised MPLs but in the 10 years that have passed no consensus has yet been achieved.

With momentum toward low-dose harmonisation, groups like CHC and others would like to see the requirement to establish MPLs removed from the FSD, thereby allowing individual member states to go it alone.

From CHC's new campaign...

“There is clearly no consensus in the EU on this so what is the point of trying to achieve harmonisation?” the CHC secretariat member wondered. “Across EU populations there are vast nutritional differences, there are age differences so we think that article 5 [MPLs] of the FSD should be removed.”

The European Commission has indicated it would like to have the issue resolved by next summer when new MEPs are elected.

The cause for high-dose supplements has received bipartisan support in the UK government and the Department of Health has also backed their safety and ability to promote health.

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.

In a statement, Michael Peet, CHC chair said: “For too many years consumers and the small businesses and retailers in this sector have had these proposals hanging over them – it’s time to shelve plans to ban higher-potency supplements for good.”

Other groups like the UK Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) and Brussels-based Food Supplements Europe (FDE) have also been spending time in Brussels (where MEPs offices are when they are not in Strasbourg at the Parliament) lobbying MEPs about issues like MPLs as well as health claims and the status of botanicals.

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