Emails spark panic over 'ban' in Denmark

Authorities say messages about supplements have no basis in reality

Danish health officials were forced to issue reassurances to consumers after a series of viral emails wrongly said Europe was poised to ban or restrict the sale of some vitamin supplements.

Thousands of Danes received emails warning: "The EU will ban natural vitamins," and: "In the future, you can only buy your vitamins at the pharmacy," said the Danish Medicines Agency and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

The missives asked recipients to click and sign a protest against the EU 'policy.' They claimed the EU was implementing legislation that meant natural vitamins and minerals supplements would in the future only be available by prescription at a pharmacy, and that many natural vitamins and minerals would be banned altogether.

The emails said that beginning in January 2010, stores in Denmark would only be able to offer dietary supplements containing ineffective levels of predominantly synthetic vitamins and minerals.

News of the emails appeared in Danish newspapers, on television and on websites, sparking a nationwide scare. Officials described their content as a "frightening message [that] has no basis in reality."

"It is pulled out of thin air that new EU legislation is on its way that will restrict consumers' access to vitamins and food supplements, and that these products will only be available on prescription at pharmacies in future," said Jens Therkel Jensen, deputy head of the nutrition division at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. "[We] would know if such legislation was on its way, which I can reject point blank."

"It is worrying that some people actively disseminate false information, thereby setting off a scare campaign," added Jytte Lyngvig, chief executive officer of the Danish Medicines Agency.

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