First ever micronutrient group to push supplement issues in UK parliament

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

'This new group will be the first of its kind,' says trade association chair
'This new group will be the first of its kind,' says trade association chair

Related tags United kingdom functional beverage beverage

The UK has launched an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on micronutrients and health, something the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) said would help bring nutrition to the forefront of discussions in Westminster. 

The group will be chaired by Labour member of parliament (MP) for West Lancashire Rosie Cooper.

The HFMA celebrated the new group at its annual parliamentary event, ‘Helping a nation to be healthier: The next 50 years’, last week.

The event presented health foods as a way of improving national health and reducing the cost burden on the UK’s national healthcare system.

An APPG is an informal cross-party group that has no official status within Parliament but is run by and for members of the commons and lords and may also involve outside individuals and organisations.

The groups are in effect a means of lobbying.

rosie cooper mp
In 2007, Rosie Cooper was Parliamentary Private Secretary to then Health Minister Ben Bradshaw. 

As of November this year there were 398 subject-based APPGs, covering issues like ‘agriculture and food for development’, ‘suicide and self-harm prevention’ and ‘women, peace and security’ as well as more fringe topics like ‘bingo’ and ‘angling’. 

Robert Taylor, HFMA chair and vice president of supplements firm Vitabiotics, said in his speech at the event: I have watched with pride how far we have already come in helping our nation to be healthier, lobbying MPs, working with key stakeholders and fighting inappropriate legislation which not only affects our industry, but also restricts consumer choice.”

Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor took on the role of chair last year. 

He added: “Whilst there are currently a number of health-related APPGs in Westminster, there are none that specifically focus on micronutrients and the role of food supplements, so this new group will be the first of its kind.”

When Taylor took on the position of chair last summer he vowed to increase the profile of the HFMA in the UK and Brussels with policy makers and regulators, with the ultimate aim of "minimising the damage of overly-restrictive new EU legislation".  

Labour MP for Swansea East and host of the event Carolyn Harris said: “We mustn’t underestimate the importance these products have in helping a nation to be healthier.

carolyn harris mp
Carolyn Harris has lived and worked in her constituency of Swansea East all her life.  

“In fact, recent research by the HFMA tells us that 55% of the population now take food supplements for a range of reasons, 60% of them on a daily basis. That’s 40,000 people in every single UK Parliamentary constituency. I myself am a huge advocate.”

The micronutrients and health APPG has not yet been officially added to the APPG list.

Once added all MPs involved are made public and under rules introduced this year groups which receive over £12,500 in a reporting year must publish income and expenditure statements.

The UK trade association HFMA represents 125 manufacturers and suppliers of natural health products including ADM Natural Health & Nutrition, Capsugel, Holland & Barrett International and Clasado. 

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