EU DIRECTIVE:: Maybe it’s not so bad after all

Despite what you may have read in your newspaper, it wasn’t all doom and gloom this week about the EU’s Food Supplements Directive. Yes, the European Court of Justice took the very unusual step of disregarding the Advocate General’s recommendation to scupper the directive. Yes, that means the restrictions on vitamins and supplements come into force throughout all EU nations in two weeks’ time, on August 1.
But, no, you probably won’t notice any difference. In this case it’s the angel that’s in the detail, and it’s all to do with the Positive List. In its original form, the Directive would allow onto the list – and so, suitable for sale – only those natural ingredients that a manufacturer could prove were safe. This would cost the manufacturer around £250,000 per ingredient, so a multi-vitamin might cost about £750,000 to get onto the list.
Campaigners such as the Alliance for Natural Health argued that it was absurd to have to prove as ‘safe’ nutrients that are in our food, and which have been taken in some form or another for many hundreds of years.
The European Court of Justice agrees, and in allowing the Directive has also added more than a fair share of common sense to the regulations. For a start, the justices have decided that any nutrient that’s already consumed as part of our regular diets doesn’t have to be included on the Positive List. They have also decided that the burden of proof should fall on the regulator, who would have to prove that a nutrient wasn’t safe. It’s enough for a manufacturer to submit an ingredient to the Positive List, and then it’s down to the regulator to disallow it, and give a full explanation of its decision.
As a result, the UK’s Food Standards Agency said that it doesn’t know of one supplement that would be banned under the revised directive.
The next hurdle is determining what is a ‘safe upper limit’ for vitamins and supplements. The danger is that the EU may, by default, adopt the Codex guidelines, which are being shaped by German and French delegates (see Enews no. 170). If they succeed, we will see levels drop dramatically in liberal countries such as Britain and Holland.
All of this means that the tremendous work of the Alliance goes on, and they still need your support and any contributions you can make. Donations can be made on their website

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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