With the death of Maurice Hanssen on Nov 21, the health food industry lost arguably the most influential figure of the past 50 years.Although Maurice's influence was felt primarily in his home country of the UK, his tireless efforts to bring business together around common principles and goals were felt throughout Europe and worldwide.
Born on Sept 14, 1931, Maurice began his professional life in pharmaceutical development. He quickly moved into the development of health foods, playing a pivotal role in the creation of the UK Health Food Manufacturers Association in 1965. This link to nutrition and health expanded with his role as director of food company Booker from 1970-1975. But Maurice was never going to stay in any conventional structure. In 1975, he reinvented himself as an independent consultant and the world of health food and food supplements was never the same again.
He launched the European Federation of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), the UK Council for Responsible Nutrition and the UK Vitamin Forum. With global trade on the rise, Maurice played a major role in bringing together industry associations from across the globe for the inaugural meeting of the International Alliance of Dietary Food Supplement Associations in 1997.
Of all of Maurice's achievements, there is one that deserves to be singled out. In 1984, he published the bestseller E for Additives, a book that made him a household name in the UK and elsewhere. Its influence was a key watershed in the development of the food industry over the ensuing decades ? making millions of consumers aware of the increasing chemicalisation of food, and forcing food companies and governments to reassess the future of food manufacturing.
Maurice was a strong believer in food supplements, herbal medicines and many forms of complementary therapy. But he was passionate in his belief that the foundations of good health came with a varied diet of fresh and nutritious food.
Throughout his life, Maurice believed strongly in the importance of building up and maintaining strong personal relationships, managing to connect with people in his many different areas of interest, whether food, wine, opera, theatre, antiques or travel. Coupled with his immense intelligence, charm, humour and ability to find solutions where none was obvious, these characteristics gave him a level of influence both within the business and with governments that may never be matched.
For many who have worked with Maurice, the abiding memory will be of someone who genuinely loved life and strived every day to share this love with others.
—Peter Van Doorn, chairman, EHPM