The EU Commission has put out a "message to EU citizens" on the European Food Supplements directive, to counter the contrary campaign. The message refers to the many e-mails received from people who are worried about the directive's restrictive direction,and strongly implies they were misled into believing that the directive is anything but a liberalising legislation. At the link below, the message can be downloaded in several different languages.
The anti supplements directive campaign must have had some effect to merit an "official response".
For other languages go to:
Message from Commissioner Byrne to EU citizens on food supplements
The European Commission has received a large number of letters from citizens who
are concerned about the proposed Directive on food supplements. Those letters are of
a similar, if not identical content and are published on the Internet as part of a
campaign against the adoption of that Directive. Given the number of the letters
received it is not possible to reply to all of them individually, hence this global reply
is also published in the Internet.
The standardised contents of the letters are based on a misrepresentation of the
reasons for proposing EU rules on the subject and the aims of the Directive. Further,
the arguments used by those promoting the campaign are false and misleading. I
would like, therefore, to explain our point of view.
The rules on food supplements existing today in the different countries of the
European Union are very different. In many cases they are rather restrictive. As a
result many consumers, who would like to buy food supplements, are simply not able
to do so. In other cases the choice available is restricted. So one of the aims of the
Directive is to allow consumers across the European Union to have a wide range of
products from which to choose. The aim is not to ban food supplements, as some have
It is expected that as a result of the adoption of the Directive, many products that are
currently sold as medicines in certain Member States will become available as food
supplements. The implementation of the Directive will not sustain the marketing of
these products as pharmaceuticals as claimed in the letter. Therefore we consider the
assertion that the Directive serves the pharmaceutical industrys interests to be
misleading and wrong.
But the most important aim of the Directive is to ensure a high level of protection for
the consumer. To ensure that the food supplements that are placed on the market are
safe. So that when you and other consumers buy them and use them, you can be sure
of their safety and quality. There is no doubt that most of the products marketed today
are safe and of the expected quality. The new rules will ensure that this is the case for
all food supplements.
For that purpose the Directive sets specific rules concerning vitamins and minerals
that are included in food supplements. Note that other substances present in the food
supplements that you may be using today, such as essential fatty acids, fibre, plants,
herbs and their extracts are not affected by the Directive. These substances will, for
now, continue to be regulated under the laws of each Member State. So there are no
changes regarding these substances because of the adoption of the Directive.
As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, the Directive does two things. First, it
establishes lists of the vitamins and minerals and their forms that can be used in the
manufacture of food supplements. In order to make sure that what you take is safe and
can be used by the human organism. The substances are put on those lists following
the evaluation by the independent advisory scientific bodies of the European Union.
Second, it foresees the setting of maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food
supplements. This will be done in the next few years on the basis of the advice that we
will get from the scientists and calculations of intakes from other food sources.
Finally the Directive lays down detailed rules for the labelling of food supplements.
These include information on the vitamin and mineral content and on how to use the
products. So that consumers themselves can decide which product is most suitable for
them and use it in all safety.
I can assure you that your interests and those of consumers in general were at the top
of our concerns when we proposed the Directive. I believe that you have every right
to have a wide choice of safe and appropriately labelled food supplements available,
to buy if you so wish. And I remain convinced that the Directive that will be shortly
formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will ensure