Irish retailers win EC investigation on vitamin levels
Natural Products News Online

March 10, 2008

A petition coordinated by Irish health food retailers, aimed at exposing the dangers of cutting vitamin and mineral supplements to RDA levels, has been ruled ‘admissible’ by the European Parliament. This means it will now have to be investigated by the European Commission. Read More.

ANH comment:

Many health-conscious European consumers rejoiced when they heard that the EU was ditching the recommended daily allowance (RDA) as the basis of setting EU wide maximum permitted levels, in favour of a science-based approach.

They weren't to know that the science would be flawed and misleading, delivering results that in some cases were even more restrictive than the RDAs.

The Irish Association of Health Stores used as a central plank of their petition the bad science revealed in the ANH critique on the EU's proposed approach to setting maximum levels.

It is great news that the IAHS petition 'ruled as admissible', and we, as consumers and interested parties, can only hope that the European Commission's investigation is not clouded by corruption and protectionism, issues about which it has previously been charged.

Please find official press release below:

-Press Release-

Wednesday, 05 March 2008

Petition on Food Supplements to be investigated by the European Commission

A petition on the new food supplements Directive has been today declared admissible by the European Parliament Petitions Committee.

Commenting from Brussels, Kathy Sinnott, MEP, said "People across Europe are mourning the loss of their daily vitamins and minerals. A new food supplements Directive in the EU will now reduce the availability of food supplements. The importance of this in Ireland is the draconian decrease in dosages of vitamins and minerals to the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). If a person wishes to take supplements more than the RDA, they will require a doctor's prescription. These minimalist levels are only enough to keep away deficiency diseases but it is not enough to contribute to good health much less enhance health. "

The petition, taken by Jill Bell on behalf of the Irish Association of Health Stores, is being hosted by Independent MEP for Ireland South Kathy Sinnott. Mrs. Sinnott, who is vice president of the Petitions Committee, welcomes the admissibility of the food supplements petition. She says, "This is wonderful news. The Petitions Committee will now send the petition to the European Commission for its opinion and investigation. Ms Bell's petition represents the Health Food Shops and people all over Ireland who take and rely on Health Food Supplements in an age where there is a recognition of the denutrition of soils, pollution and too much processed foods, and where vitamins and minerals are more important than ever."

The Irish Association of Health Stores is a trade association representing 80% of health food stores in Ireland. While it supports rules governing food supplements, it takes the view that Directive 2002/46/EC, on the approximation of the laws of the Member States, relating to food supplements is inappropriate and particularly disproportionate to the levels of risk involved. While the ceiling limits have not yet been published, it is clear that they will unjustifiably restrict access to food supplements which have proved safe and effective in Ireland and the UK for over 40 years. The Irish Association of Health Stores maintains that Member States should be able to choose whether the decision is made by the authorities, the consumers and/or the organisations concerned, thereby ensuring continued access to the above food products, which have traditionally been sold in the Member States and in particular, Ireland and the UK.

Mrs. Sinnott continues "It is completely unacceptable that Irish and European legislation would deny citizens the right to protect their health with vitamins and minerals at the dose and form that they require. In Brussels we talk a lot about healthy eating and exercise. However, in a world with pollution, stressful schedules, depleted soils etc, this is often not enough. Denying access to food supplements above the RDA except on prescription favors pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession but discriminates against health professionals and suppliers. Where is democracy? It is ridiculous that people's choices are being taken away from them. People must draw the line. This petition is sending a clear message to the Commission and Irish Government that we are not willing to hand simple choices around our nutrition over to Europe."

The Food Supplements Directive was a particular project of the former Irish Commissioner David Byrne. "It is not surprising that Ireland should be faced with the worst version of the Directive considering this fact," concludes Kathy.

For further information, questions or comments, please contact Kathy on:

Mobile: +353 87 2786 552
Brussels office: +32 228 47692  
Cork office: +353 21 4888 793
Email: [email protected]


Note to Editor:

The above petition is Petition No. 1037/2007 by Jill Bell (Irish) on behalf of the Irish Association of Health Stores, concerning Directive 2002/46/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to food supplements.

Petitions deemed admissible by the Petitions Committee will be sent to the European Commission for its opinion. The Commission will investigate the matter and contact all the relevant national authorities to establish the facts. This is a lengthy process and can take a number of months. When all the facts have been gathered, the petition will be heard before the Petitions Committee in the presence of MEPs and the Commission. The petitioners will have the opportunity to travel to Brussels to present their petition. The Petitions Committee will then make a decision on the petition.

Directive 2002/46/EC can be sourced here: