UK - Vitamins, Minerals Industry 'Still Left in Doubt' 4-6-05

UK - Vitamins, Minerals Industry 'Still Left in Doubt' 4-6-05

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UK - Vitamins, Minerals Industry 'Still Left in Doubt'

Birmingham Post

06 Apr 2005

The future of Britain's thriving market in vitamins and other food supplements was still in doubt yesterday after a judge decreed that new EU restrictions on their approval were "invalid".

On the face of it, the declaration from the European Court of Justice was a victory for a British health-food industry fighting to prevent hundreds of established food supplements being swept from the shelves by the EU rules on August 1 this year.

But today's double-edged "opinion" made clear that, with some technical changes to ensure legal and administrative clarity, the controversial Food Supplements Directive could still come into force.

A final ruling is expected from the Luxembourg Court as the August deadline looms, and meanwhile campaigners have vowed to continue battling to safeguard the future for as many as 5,000 familiar health food products on sale in the UK.
They contain more than 200 nutrients used safely in specialist supplements for many years.

But, from August 1, such supplements will be banned unless they qualify for inclusion on an agreed EU-wide list of vitamins and minerals permitted for use in food supplements.  Campaigners say the procedure is unnecessary and, for many suppliers, far too bureaucratic and costly.

As a result, health food tablets containing nutrients such as selenium yeast, boron and chromium picolinate may have to go, even though they have been approved under domestic food safety laws.

Conservative Euro-MP John Bowis said yesterday's "opinion" from the European Court's Advocate-General was welcomed by the hundreds of thousands of people who have been taking vitamins and minerals on health grounds for their entire adult lives with no ill-effects.

The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) had been joined by the Alliance for National Health and the National Association of Health Stores in launching legal action, while other groups have kept up a high profile campaign.

They include Consumers for Health Choice and its star activist actress Jenny Seagrove.

British Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies emphasised that the purpose of the law was not to ban products, but to make sure they were safe.  "But the resulting legislation is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut," he said.

Next:  John Hammell - International Advocates for Health Freedom

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