Facts about Codex and Dietary Supplements

Silver Spring, MD (April 13, 2005) -- Numerous internet-based articles in recent months have broadcast concern about the potential impact of the Codex Alimentarius Commission on the legal status of dietary supplements in the United States. Many companies that sell herbal products have contacted AHPA in the past several weeks with questions about these articles, and numerous consumers of herbal products have also requested clarification of the impact that Codex will have on their access to dietary supplements that contain vitamins, minerals and herbs.

AHPA has therefore prepared a document to address these inquiries, both for our members who market dietary supplements and for their health-conscious customers who use them. The document, “Codex Alimentarius and dietary supplements,” is posted on the AHPA website at http://www.ahpa.org/05_0413_CodexAndDS.pdf. It provides a short background on Codex as well as succinct discussions of the relationship between Codex and the World Trade Organization and of the pending adoption by Codex of guidelines on vitamin and mineral food supplements (VMS Guidelines). The effect of Codex on both international and domestic trade is also addressed and a short commentary on another international regulation, the EU Directive on Food Supplements, is also included.

AHPA’s Codex document also provides a table of “Quick Facts on Codex.” These include:

The effect of the Codex VMS Guidelines is that the US (and all countries in Codex) will be required to allow the import of all vitamin and mineral supplements that conform to the new guidelines.

Codex can affect a country's domestic laws by forcing them to be relaxed, but only if those laws are more restrictive than a Codex standard or guideline.

The Codex vitamin and mineral guidelines will not have a direct or immediate effect on US domestic law since US law is less restrictive than these Codex guidelines.

When Codex sets maximum levels on vitamins and minerals it will do so based on science.

The rights of American consumers are protected by DSHEA — and only the US Congress can amend US laws.


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal supplement industry, the only trade association devoted solely to herbal issues. AHPA is the recognized leader in representing the responsible center of the botanical trade, and is comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products. AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of responsibility with respect to the way herbs are manufactured, labeled and sold. Website: www.ahpa.org

Karen Robin, Director of Communications
American Herbal Products Association
Telephone: (301) 588-1171, x-107
Email: [email protected]

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