EU may be challenged over supplement nutrient levels

UK trade group the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) has sought a legal opinion it hopes will bolster the argument for liberal guidelines to be followed as European law makers move closer to establishing upper safe levels (USLs) for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients across the 27 Member States of the European Union.

"The HFMA's objectives are to ensure that the important goal of harmonisation is not achieved at the expense of the higher potency specialty supplements that have been supplied safely for years in the UK and other markets,? said director David Adams.

Opinions have differed radically across the EU as to the best method for establishing USLs which were written into the 2002 Food Supplements Directive, although the European Commission indicated in a recent orientation paper that the liberal approach as backed by the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and others was being favoured by the European Food Safety Authority, which is charged with assessing dosage data and recommending USLs.

"The opinion delivers a paradigm shift in thinking and creates a window of opportunity for the European industry to unite to achieve the best possible outcome, founded on sound legal principles," said Brussels-based industry lobbyist Chris Whitehouse.

The legal opinion favours a two-tier system where high-dose supplements carry warnings that ?would meet all relevant legal criteria, notably risk analysis, food safety, proportionality and equal treatment."

The UK Food Standards Agency also favours such a system.

EU-wide USLs are expected to be published by 2009.

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