Resistance to EU Directive Grows

Despite its imminent passage into law, resistance to the European Union Directive on dietary supplements is continuing unabated in some European countries.

In the UK, campaigning continues against the Directive, which seeks to harmonise the regulatory structure governing dietary supplements throughout the EU. In particular, Article 4, which defines upper safe levels for the vitamins and minerals the Directive permits, is seen as an aspect of the legislation open to negotiation.

While acknowledging the inevitability of the Directive's passage into law, Sue Croft, director of UK-based group Consumers for Health Choice, said lobbying efforts continue to have outlawed Directive ingredients included in the Article 5 annex, as well as the increased dose strength via upper safe limits.

"It is not quite a done deal in that maximum levels have yet to be set," she said. "We are briefing British parliamentarians to make sure they lobby for the maximum nutrient levels that the science supports as being safe. If the British government doesn't argue for that, our market here is virtually destroyed and consumers will lose products that they have been using for at least 30 years."

The Danish government has also stated its opposition to the legislation. Food minister Fischer Boel said the Danish government is opposed to functional foods and nutraceuticals in principle and would therefore continue to fight against the legislation. The Danes have also expressed concern about what they consider to be the unknown effects of excessive vitamin or mineral intake. Boel said his government planned to take advantage of the fact that Denmark will hold the EU presidency election in July.

Josef Hasslberger, a member of the Italian consumer advocacy group La Leva Di Archimede, said his group had instigated a public education programme.

"Mass resistance could kick in if the public is made aware of what's happening," he said. "We are trying to raise consciousness of what the Directive means for practitioners, consumers and for the public health system."

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