Thursday, July 14, 2005

Are Your Favorite Supplements in the EU About To Disappear?

On July 5, 2005 we got the word that Codex adopted international guidelines for vitamins and minerals. Just one short week later the bad news came out for the UK’s "Health Food Manufacturers Association" (HFMA) and other groups such as the "Consumers for Health Choice" who have been protesting - to no avail - another law affecting the supplement industry.

"The European food supplements directive is valid, decided a European court ruling today, ending months of uncertainty for much of the region's supplements industry, and disappointing those behind a major effort to overturn the law."

The HFMA and the National Association of Health food Stores (NAHS), responsible for the joint case against the Commission, say the directive threatens up to 5,000 commonly consumed products on sale in the UK because they contain more than 200 nutrients not on the directive's "positive" list of permitted substances.

The trade bodies have today asked the British Prime Minister to intervene in Europe following their defeat.

How will this affect your access to supplements?

For those supplements already on the "approved" list, you might actually see lower prices and more competition because it opens the door for companies supplying supplements on this list to import to your region.

For supplements that are not listed might have to kiss them goodbye after August 1 when the law goes into effect.

...or wait a great deal of time and expect dramatically higher prices while those ingredients go through the process (and expensive testing) to get on the approved list...

Oh --- and don't expect all of the supplements not yet approved to go through the process to get on the list. It's an expensive process. So expensive that the UK released funding to support more supplement dossiers in June.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it wanted to encourage further dossier submission, by giving derogation to all dossiers submitted in the UK or another member state, and supporting the scientific work, in order to protect consumer choice in the UK.

At that time, only 29 dossiers had been submitted to the FSA. A major barrier to their submission was cost, which can go up to €350,000 for the more complex materials, which have little readily available data.

The funding helped push up the number of submissions but the deadline to submit and get on the list was July 12 --- oddly enough, that's the same date that was given for the final court ruling to come out which determined whether or not the directive would go through at all.

In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research at the end of May this year, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the rules implied by the supplements directive were "wholly out of proportion to the risks run."

In fact, earlier in April the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, although not legally binding, stated the European Union's food supplement directive, set to enter into force in August, infringes basic principles of European law and should be rewritten which pushed the directive back into court.

Both Tony Blair's and the senior judge's position on the matter gave quite a bit of hope to groups like the CHC, NAHS and HFMA that the directive would not go through.

But --- the decision has been handed down.

The directive will roll forward with an August 1 entry into law for the EU.

USA and Canadian residents... if you think this won't affect us, well... you just might change your mind when you know more about CODEX and realize it is coming from the World Health Organization, a standard both our countries tend to follow.

If you're a regular reader of BLV Health Watch, you've read past updates I've posted on this subject. If you are new to our newsletter, you can search our archives through this link:

I'll try to keep you informed as this story unfolds.

Meanwhile, any feedback our European friends can send our way as to what DOES happen on August 1 ...and in the weeks/months following... would be greatly appreciated. We would like to hear how this directly affects our loyal readers living in the EU.

Sidenote: What is really sad about all of this in my humble opinion is that science has really only begun to study the many benefits that can be derived from plant life on our planet. Many mysteries and wonderful health benefits are being discovered on a regular basis only in recent years --- and I'm certain there are many more to come. Will this directive and/or CODEX prevent access to future incredible discoveries for "we, the people?" If it does, I have a feeling the boomers might have quite a lot to say about it.