Concern over European nutrient USLs rises again

Trade group calls for better model by independent academics

Europe: Pan-European trade group, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), has slammed methods being considered by the European Commission (EC) to establish upper safe levels (USLs) for nutrients governed by the Food Supplements Directive and the Fortified Foods Regulation.

The ANH medical director, Dr Damien Downing, said some of the methods being considered by the EC were "unscientific," "flawed" and "do not stand up to scientific scrutiny."

The scientific director, Dr Robert Verkerk, added: "You know something is wrong when they [the EC] are thinking of limiting the dose of beta-carotene to the amount you'd find in just two carrots, and restricting selenium to the amount present in less than two Brazil nuts. There seems to have been no attempt to test the models against real data. If the commission really believed these doses might be the highest safe doses, why aren't they screaming for warning labels to be put on bags of carrots and Brazil nuts? We believe a new model should be developed within an independent, academic setting rather than being subject to the often conflicting pressures of industrial stakeholders and political processes."

A spokesperson for the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) said there was no need to adopt the ANH alarmist position. The spokesperson said the most recent EC guidance indicated liberal models, including one submitted by a subcommittee of the UK Food Standards Agency, were holding most sway and likely to have their tenets adopted.

"I wonder about the ANH position," the spokesperson told Functional Ingredients. "We saw the previous guidance as a positive outcome. We don't fear USLs being set at criminally low levels."

It is expected European Union USLs will be finalised by 2009.

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