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Vitamin & Mineral Supplements under threat

As we speak, the European Union is in the process of introducing Europe wide regulations on maximum doses of vitamin and mineral supplements - and in particular what manufacturers and shops like Organico can say about the supplements we sell. Most shops and manufacturers are in favour of regulations, as we would not like to be working in a world where people can lie to the public about what a product does, but we are concerned that the proposed regulations are going to restrict consumer choice and impact negatively on health. We are most of us in favour of setting 'upper safety limits' based on scientific evidence, but not in setting them based on decades-old notions of what minimum levels of vitamins prevents life-threatening illnesses.

In Organico we believe in optimum health, not just in preventing illness. And we also feel that all of us should be able to treat our minor ailments in any (safe) way we chose - by using 1000mg of vitamin C for a cold, for example. But in other European countries this amount of vitamin C is prohibited, and in order to harmonise situations like this the European Union is trying to standardise maximum levels accross the EU.

Under the terms of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC), the European Commission will shortly propose levels of vitamins and minerals which it believes are the maximum that should be permitted for use in supplements. A Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers will then be asked to approve those figures.

Unfortunately it appears that the Irish foods regulatory authority (the FSAI) are supporters of the RDA principal (which as I touched on above allows only for the prevention of critical illnesses rather than the maintenance of good health) and has taken very little notice of the Health Food Industry's submissions of evidence supporting the use of safe upper levels. Our industry association (the I.A.H.S.) is currently in talks with the Dept of Health regarding this issue. However we are now starting to take action at a local level.

Shortly I will post a pro-forma letter that can be adapted and sent to relevant parties, and a list of people to send it to.

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