Food Supplements

Health written question – answered on 7th July 2003.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what plans (a) his Department and (b) the Food Standards Agency have to meet the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority to discuss the concerns of UK industry on the omission from Annex 1 and Annex 2 of the Food Supplements Directive of nutrients permitted for use in the UK;

(2) what recent meetings Ministers in his Department have had with representatives of the Health Food Manufacturers Association to discuss the Food Supplements Directive; what issues were discussed at the meetings; and what action he intends to take as a result.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

My hon. Friend, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, (Ms Blears) met with representatives of the Health Food Manufacturer's Association to discuss the Food Supplements Directive on 9 June 2003. Issues covered in discussion fell under four main headings: nutrients and nutrient sources missing from Annexes I and II in the Food Supplements Directive and requirements for safety dossiers; the recently-published report of the expert group on vitamins and minerals and advice on safe upper levels therein; future setting of maximum permitted levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements at European Union level; and plans for future action on chromium picolinate.

The Government, represented by the Food Standards Agency, is pressing the European Food Safety Authority for an urgent, substantive meeting with relevant parties to discuss dossier requirements and expects a positive response soon. The European Commission supports this move. The objectives of such a meeting would be to explain problems faced by the United Kingdom food supplements industry resulting from the omission of nutrients and nutrient sources from the Annexes to the Food Supplements Directive; and to explore the potential for simplified dossiers to be presented for vitamin and mineral sources with a long history of safe use and the potential for read-across between dossiers for substances which are likely to have similar toxicological profiles

Further, to ensure that the Government's policy objectives for regulation of food supplements in the EU are met, the Government continues to press for maximum limits for nutrients in food supplements to be based on thorough risk assessment and set at levels which protect public health, but which neither unnecessarily limit consumer choice nor unduly restrict trade. The Government continues to press this view strongly with other Member States at every opportunity.

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