There was tremendous news today for the millions of people in Europe who choose to use food supplements. Following a landmark challenge in the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) brought by the Alliance for Natural Health and Nutri-Link Ltd to the contentious Food Supplements Directive, which effectively proposed to ban 75% of vitamin and mineral forms, Advocate General Geelhoed, the senior adviser to the ECJ, gave his Opinion in favour of the Alliance’s case.
What does this mean? That the chances of consumers being able to continue using the natural food supplements they believe are beneficial to their health are now greatly increased. There has been uproar about the proposed EU ban, and maybe, against the odds, the consumer is going to come out on top in what is a remarkable modern day case of David and Goliath.
In a statement released in Luxembourg today at 0830 GMT, the Advocate General concluded that:
* The Food Supplements Directive infringes the principle of proportionality because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not properly been taken into account.
* It is therefore invalid under EU law.
It should be stressed that the Advocate General’s pronouncement is not a ruling. That will come from the ECJ judges, later - probably around June. But typically, in the vast majority of cases, the Court Judgment follows the recommendations of the Advocate General.
If the Advocate General’s recommendations are adopted, in effect, the ban on vitamin and mineral forms not included on the EU’s ‘Positive list,’ due to come into effect on 1 August 2005, will be declared illegal. In essence, the positive list of allowable nutrient forms will be deemed to be too narrow, too restrictive, and based on flawed science.
This would avoid the totally irrational situations that the Food Supplements Directive would otherwise create. For example, synthetically produced selenium would have been allowed on the positive list, while the natural source found in Brazil nuts would not; synthetic forms of Vitamin E (often used in ‘adverse’ vitamin studies reported in the media) would be allowed, but the natural, most beneficial food forms would not.
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is a Europe-wide professional organisation dedicated to ensuring that good science and good law are applied to regulation affecting the leading edge of natural health. If the Advocate General’s recommendations are endorsed by the ECJ judges, it will represent the culmination of three years dogged determination, dedication and hard work on the part of ANH and its many supporters around the world.