Belgium writes BELFRIT botanical list into law

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Belgium affirms BELFRIT as basis of herbal law and wants other EU member states to follow suit
Belgium affirms BELFRIT as basis of herbal law and wants other EU member states to follow suit

Related tags Member states Eu member states European union

Belgium has notified the European Commission of a draft decree replacing its current lists of botanicals with those approved under BELFRIT – bringing the number of plants from about 645 to 1019 and adding many new maximum levels and mandatory warnings.

Joris Geelen has worked for eight years as a regulatory expert for the Belgian department of health, food chain safety and environment and was part of the team which unified the French, Belgian and Italian lists of safe botanicals to form BELFRIT in 2013​. 

He told us Belgium hoped to have the support of the majority of other EU member states on thedecree​.

On an EU level our intention is of course to convince other member states to implement the same list in their legislation and start harmonisation that way.”

EU member states are obliged to notify the Commission of new technical rules to ensure compatibility with EU law and internal market principles but Geelen added: “In a way we’re also making a point of course.”

The Commission and member states are now able to comment on the draft and possibly raise objections. Only after this process will it be written into the official Belgian journal.

France is in the process of adding 500 plants from the list to its own legislature while the Italian Ministry of Health implemented a transition period for those herbals that did not make its list to sell through, and that the 1000-strong BELRIT list was not definitive.

The amended Royal Decree of 29 August 1997 included a list of prohibited plants, a list of edible mushrooms and a list of plants permitted in food supplements specifying in some cases conditions of use.

The draft decree factored in a transition period, allowing food supplements that do not comply to sell through up to two years after the decree comes into force.

The list 

Harmonisation still in sight

Geelen, a long-time proponent of EU harmonisation on botanicals, said wildly differing national regulations meant both over and under regulation and unfair competition.  

Differences included classification as medicine or food and the legitimacy of ‘traditional use’ evidence of efficacy and safety.

“To guarantee the safety, quality and legal security of these products with such heterogeneous ingredients coherent science-based legislation should be the answer to address the different and particular challenges.”

He said Belgium had been working toward this for the better part of two decades. “We want to ‘extrapolate’ our legislation, procedures and notification system to the other member states, to the EU. We need more coherent policies based on scientific advice. We need better quality dossiers and products for food supplements with botanicals. The firms need a push and guidance to assure safety and quality.”

His team has requested a meeting with the new European Commission headed by Lithuanian Vytenis Andriukaitis to discuss this.  

In Europe, botanicals are typically classified as either food supplements, medicines or under the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) depending on the country.

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Posted by HARRY,


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Institutional source of botanical list

Posted by samuele,

I have see the link of belgium decree but I can't find the institutional source of the list attached in the article.

Can you help me?

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BELFRIT is a fraud

Posted by Angelika,

The Belfrit list is a only a small collection of some useful medicinal herbs occurring / used in Europe. There are many unlisted and/or lesser known useful herbs, currently employed by traditional herbal practitioners of Europe and folk medicine alike. Others are currently rediscovered or just gaining momentum as the body of research increases on a daily basis. Writing a list in law leaves no room or flexibility for these other herbs.
The call for science-based legislation shows a total misunderstanding of the subject: Scientific evidence is still sparse for most natural agents. In addition, modern scientific uses aimed at making money or creating a “hype” can be totally different from established traditional uses. Herbs are not pharmaceuticals, they are living beings with intelligence and quite unscientific characteristics. European traditional herbalism acknowledges these facts and prescribes herbs within the context of holism and energetics – very different from the use of pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, traditional herbalism of ALL cultures uses the concept of synergy: custom-made prescriptions tailored to a specific person.
This will only benefit big Pharma that tries to use their ignorance on those who know better!

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