Food: Supplements

House of Lords written question – answered on 15th July 2009.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe Shadow Minister, Health

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect the Food Standards Agency to issue briefing material to United Kingdom Members of the European Parliament on (a) progress in establishing maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements under the provisions of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive, and (b) the procedures through which the Parliament will consider those figures.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions officials of the Department of Health or the Food Standards Agency or both intend to have with Directorate General Enterprise of the European Commission on the economic impact on United Kingdom specialist health food retailers and manufacturers of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive.

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to raise with Mr José Manuel Barroso their concerns about the impact of establishing maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements prior to his reappointment as President of the European Commission.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that candidates for appointment later this year to the position of the Health Commissioner in the European Commission are aware of the United Kingdom's wish for a proportionate interpretation of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

No specific levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements have yet been proposed by the European Commission or discussed in Commission-led working group meetings with member states.

There are no plans to provide briefing material to United Kingdom (UK) Members of the European Parliament at this stage on progress in establishing maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements under the provisions of Article 5 of the food supplements directive, or the procedures through which the Parliament will consider those figures.

In the absence of specific levels, it is not possible to assess the potential economic impact on United Kingdom specialist health food retailers and manufacturers of Article 5 of the food supplements directive. No discussions have therefore taken place between officials of the Department of Health or Food Standards Agency with the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission on this issue.

In the mean time, the Food Standards Agency continues to work with the food supplements industry to consider the potential impact of levels, when they are proposed, on UK businesses and consumer choice.

There are no plans to raise the issue of setting maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements with the President-elect of the European Commission or to inform potential candidates for the post of European Commissioner for Health of the UK's position on this issue.

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