EU threatens to ban vitamin supplements (The Independent on Sunday, 10 March 2002, page 13)
Some of the most popular vitamin and mineral pills are likely to be banned after a vote in the European Parliament this week. The vote, on Tuesday, is expected to put the finishing touches to a new EU law designed to crack down on the sale of the pills. Critics say that the law … will plunge countless people into distress, and put hundreds of health food shops out of business.
300 vitamin treatments face ban in Euro purge (The Daily Telegraph, 11 March 2002, page 7)
Ninety per cent of multivitamin and mineral preparations and many other supplements are likely to be removed from the shelves of British health shops and chemists if a European directive becomes law…
Euro law ‘doom’ for health shops (Evening Standard, 11 March 2002, page 5)
Hundreds of popular vitamin and mineral supplements will be removed from the shelves of British health food shops if an EU directive becomes law this week. Campaigners have described the new law as “ridiculous”…
The aim of this directive is to ensure that vitamin and mineral pills on the market are safe to be consumed as supplements to a normal diet. The legislation will put public safety and informed consumer choice first, and should help to solve the problems manufacturers currently face in marketing their products due to diverging national rules. Consumers across Europe will have a wide range of safe products to choose from, which is currently not the case in several Member States.
Manufacturers will be obliged to provide detailed labelling giving clear information to the consumer. Bottles of vitamin pills will have to include clear instructions about daily dosage, a warning about the possible health risks from excess use and a statement that the pills should not be used as a substitute to a balanced diet. Claims that the product can prevent, treat or cure illnesses will be prohibited and it must be made clear that a balanced diet remains the best approach to achieving good health.
Manufacturers will have to submit safety dossiers and make a good case for the efficacy of their product. The UK is, at present, among the more liberal countries in allowing doses far higher than the official recommended daily allowances (RDAs) compared with other EU Member States where over-the-counter supplements may contain only the official RDA. Anything higher must be prescribed on clear medical grounds. The new rules will mean all supplements will be assessed for safety on the basis of scientific guidelines to determine what the maximum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements should be.
The claim that extra costs will push health food stores out of business is untrue. If the food supplements contain natural ingredients and pose no health risk, there is nothing to fear from the new safeguards.