ANH Comment on Codex


Paul Taylor on Codex and the Food Supplements Directive

(See ANH news item 18 November 2003)

We congratulate Paul Taylor on his extremely full reporting of the Codex meeting in Bonn. This level of detail is essential as a reference point for those with an interest in understanding the process as well as for the development of strategies that influence the process positively.

Paul has rightly stressed the strong interrelationship between Codex and the Food Supplements Directive, (“FSD”) which will come into force in increments over the coming years, and will impact levels of vitamins and minerals in its second phase (see below).

Quite apparent too is the significant and growing influence of the EU on Codex itself. It was most interesting to see the degree of participation and input provided by Mr. Basil Mathioudakis, of the EU. This was permitted by the Chairman notwithstanding that at present the EU is merely an “Observer” and not a full member. His contributions dominated the debates and it will be recalled that he was one of the master architects behind the drafting of the FSD.

The first phase, of the FSD, namely the reduction of permissible vitamins and minerals to those specified on the Positive List set out in the annex to the Directive, in our view is simply ‘the thin end of the wedge’ which is a creeping restriction and medicalisation of food supplements first in the EU and then via Codex worldwide.

Unless a nutrient is on the positive list, from 2005 it will be banned from sale in the EU. This ban will prohibit sale of around 300 of the 420 or so vitamin and minerals forms presently on the EU market.

The ban is the target of two EU constitutional law challenges; one by ANH, representing particularly European innovative manufacturers, practitioners, retailers and consumers, and aspects of the UK industry and the other by the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) and the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA).

The primary purpose of ANH’s legal challenge is to overturn the ban. ANH argues that it is quite unnecessary and indeed defeats the stated purpose of the Directive, which is the promotion of trade in food supplements throughout the EU! (Look out for an up-coming news item, which will give details of the ANH legal challenge.)

Incremental phases of the Food Supplements Directive

· Phase 1: 1 August 2005 – Restrictions on vitamin & mineral forms

· Phase 2: 2004-6? – Restrictions on vitamin & mineral doses

· Phase 3: 2006-7? – Restrictions on amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, plant extracts, fibre, etc.

· Phase 4: 31 December 2009 – Derogation period for dossier forms expires

The Codex proposals clearly aim to incorporate the heart of the EU Food Supplements Directive’s model for the regulation of food supplements into the Codex Guidelines.

Accordingly a successful legal challenge to the FSD will at the very least, curtail EU Commission expansionist schemes and help to focus worldwide attention and effort towards the adoption of appropriate Codex guidelines for vitamin and minerals.

Where do we go from here?

The Food Supplements Directive and Codex have to be seen as critical to the entire future of nutritional therapy and freedom of choice in relation to nutritional supplements.

The Food Supplements Directive has been touted as a ‘safe harbour’ for nutritional products and non-medicinal herbs because it enables them to be considered as foods rather than as medicines. But what ships will be able to fit into that harbour? Which nutrients will be allowed under FSD? We fear too few.

It is critical that we work towards a much more scientifically rational model for the Food Supplements Directive which does not discriminate against safe and effective nutrients, particularly if these are forms are identical to those found naturally in foods (as is presently the case in some important cases).

Help us in the cause!

Support our legal challenge and our other activities.

ANH is totally dependent on support from consumers, practitioners and innovative companies. May we ask that you seriously consider making a regular monthly donation?

Thank you.

In health (now and in the future!),

Dr Robert Verkerk
Executive Director
Alliance for Natural Health

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