Food Supplements Guidance Published

The Food Standards Agency has issued advice to industry that some food supplement products containing high levels of certain vitamins or minerals should carry advisory statements to consumers on their labels.

This reflects consumer advice already available on the Agency's website.

The aim of the advice is to protect consumers by providing information that will alert them to the potential for adverse effects and will enable them to make informed choices.

The advice has been agreed by the FSA and food supplements industry representatives following publication in May 2003 of a report from the UK’s Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM).

The majority of food supplement products on the UK market contain amounts of vitamins and minerals that are well below the safe upper levels set by the EVM.

However, a small number of products containing high amounts of vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, nickel, beta-carotene, nicotinic acid, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin B6 could cause adverse effects in some people.

In discussions with industry the Agency identified three vitamins (vitamin B6, nicotinic acid and beta-carotene) that could be reformulated to lower doses in order to prevent more serious effects with prolonged use.

In these cases the Agency recommends advisory statements and/or reformulation.

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