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Group Plans To Protect Global Dietary Supplement Access

Thursday, December 20, 2007 by: Michael Jolliffe

(NewsTarget) UK-based health freedom campaign group the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) has outlined a challenge against what it believes to be a critical process in the global regulation of trade and consumer access to dietary supplements.

Responding to an 'Orientation Paper' created by the European Commission on the maximum dosages of vitamins and minerals allowed in food supplements and fortified foods, dosages set to be imposed EU-wide within the next two years, ANH has filed its own Position Paper exposing, it claims, 'a significant number of flaws and inconsistencies' in the conclusions reached by the Commission.

It is widely thought that the maximum permitted levels set by the EC will become a template for those set by the Codex Alimentarius commission of the World Trade Organisation, which will, in turn, be 'exported' globally through regional free trade agreements such as CAFTA. The process of deciding on maximum levels, known as 'nutrient risk assessment', is believed to be one of the most crucial, and potentially impactful, in the perceived potential restriction of consumer access to dietary supplements, both in Europe and worldwide.

Citing a connection between European regulation and Codex international trade guidelines, campaigners point to the first risk assessment project of its kind being carried out by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), where studies were led by Dr. Rolf Grossklaus, who is also the Chairman of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU).

Describing the current guidelines as 'flawed' and 'unscientific', a press release accompanying the ANH Position Paper decried the apparent lack of common sense in the Commission's recommendations. "You know something is wrong when they are thinking of limiting the dose of beta-carotene to the amount you'd find in just two carrots, and restricting selenium to the amount present in less than two Brazil nuts", said executive and scientific director Dr. Robert Verkerk, "why aren't they screaming for warning labels to be put on bags of carrots and Brazil nuts?"

Dr. Damien Downing, medical director of the Alliance for Natural Health, outlined his concern over the impact of the EC's proposed levels on the future of public health: 'The resulting maximum levels, should these be implemented in law, would prevent many consumers from ingesting the levels of vitamins needed for optimal health and would also greatly interfere with consumer choice.'

As an alternative, the ANH Position Paper recommends that a new risk assessment model be created 'within an independent and academic setting'. The paper also makes clear that should the current guidelines stand, they may be subject to legal challenge. The group has had a previous victory in this area, having successfully campaigned for the removal of natural vitamin and mineral forms from being potentially banned by the EU Food Supplements Directive in 2005.

The organisation, lead by Dr. Verkerk, has consulted with, among others, the World Health Organisation and the European Food Safety Authority, as well as a number of US based health freedom organisations such as the National Health Federation, the American Association for Health Freedom and International Advocates for Health Freedom. Working together with physicians, lawyers, consumers and natural health product manufacturers, the stated mission of ANH has been to 'positively shape the regulatory and scientific framework affecting natural health', through 'good science and good law'.

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