Significant trade barriers for food supplements still exist at national level in the European Union (EU), the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) has said.
EHPM said that as the EU harmonisation of food supplements legislation is not complete, there is still a long way to go towards achieving the free movement of these products across the EU.
The trade organisation, which represents more than 2000 specialist health product manufacturers across Europe, highlighted the current challenges of pan-European marketing of food supplements. These challenges range from ingredients that are allowed for use, to the levels authorised for nutrients and other ingredients.
In recognition of the complexities that companies face on a daily basis EHPM has organised a ‘Free Trade Initiative’ workshop for its members next month to tackle questions and find solutions to the key issues causing barriers to trade.
Industry faces a number of practical problems in marketing products across the Member States,” said Peter van Doorn, Chairman of EHPM. “Some companies don’t realise that they have options. EU legal principles and case law can be used to overcome national trade barriers and allow the free movement of food supplements across the 27 Member States. By sharing views, problems and potential solutions, we can learn how to ‘work the system’ more effectively and help companies to overcome trade barriers.”
The day-long workshop will give companies an overview of how the free movement of goods applies in practice in the EU; explore the principle of mutual recognition in relation to food supplements, with a Commission representative giving an assessment of how the European Commission’s proposal for a new Regulation on Mutual Recognition will facilitate intra-community trade for food supplements; and companies from different member states will share their experiences on how to successfully overcome these barriers.
Mr van Doorn said: “We are regularly seeing companies taking court action against national authorities for preventing their products access to a specific market, or submitting their complaints on this to the European Commission.”
“The principle of Mutual Recognition, on which our free trade initiative is based, has been tried successfully by several companies in the past, and the continued pressure from industry is paying off,” he continued. “For example, France has recently incorporated the principle into its food supplement legislation, allowing acceptance of products that are legally on the market in another member state. As long as there are still many non-harmonised ingredients and products, the use of the Mutual Recognition principle may open up markets.”
The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) was created in 1975, working to provide consumers with safe, science-based, high quality products as well as accurate and helpful information about their nutritional value and use.