Today could have seen up to 5,000 vitamin and mineral products being banned from health store shelves in the UK alone, with further products being banned in other EU countries such as Ireland and Sweden.

But, following the legal challenge to this ban implicit in the EU Food Supplements Directive, mounted in 2003 by the Alliance for Natural Health and two UK trade associations, the National Association of Health Stores and the Health Food Manufacturers Association, mutual cooperation between the health industry and government authorities has seen the wide-scale ban circumvented.

The ban would have affected products containing over 200 vitamin and mineral ingredients which had not been subject to extensive safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority, but nevertheless had been consumed safely as part of the normal diet for thousands of years.

Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director of the pan-European Alliance for Natural Health said: