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Food Supplements

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been commissioned by his Department into the costs and implications for product characteristics of the reformulation of food supplements in those cases where nutrient sources in use in the United Kingdom are not included in the lists of permitted nutrients set out in the annexes to the food supplements directive. [103003]

The Government have not commissioned any research into the costs and implications for product characteristics of reformulation of food supplements in those cases where nutrient sources currently used are not on the list of permitted sources. Information gathered by the Food Standards Agency in preparing the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the draft Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003 provides estimates of the costs of reformulation up to £3,000 per product.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the potential costs involved in the production of dossiers for submission to the European Food Safety Authority in connection with nutrients for which manufacturers are seeking inclusion in the lists of permitted ingredients set out in the annexes to the Food Supplements Directive. [103004]

The Government have not made its own assessment of the potential costs involved in the production of dossiers for submission to the European Food Safety Authority. Industry cost estimates, provided to the Food Standards Agency during consultation, suggest that they might be £80,000 to £250,000 per dossier where significant safety data are not already available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received from (a) individual companies, (b) trade organisations and (c) consumer bodies about nutrients which are permitted for use in food supplements in the United Kingdom, but which are omitted from the lists of permitted nutrients set out in annexes 1 and 2 of the Food Supplements Directive. [103005]

A number of individual companies, trade organisations and lobby groups have recently suggested that the Government should seek an amendment to the Food Supplements Directive to allow the continued sale in the United Kingdom of safe and appropriately labelled food supplements even if they lie outside the technical restrictions of the Directive.During negotiations, the Government fought hard to secure the provisions in Article 4 of the Directive, which enable member states to allow the continued sale of products that do not comply with the compositional requirements up to 31 December 2009, provided certain criteria are met. The Government are taking advantage of these provisions and have no plans to seek a further amendment to the Directive. Negotiations were finished some time ago and it is not likely either that the Commission would be willing to reopen them now or that there would be support from a majority of other member states for such an amendment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department and the Food Standards Agency intend to take to address technical difficulties and financial costs associated with the production of dossiers for consideration by the European Food Safety Authority in relation to nutrients which are not included in the list of permitted ingredients for use in food supplements set out in Schedules 2 and 3 of the proposed Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003; [103007](2) whether his Department and the Food Standards Agency have made representations to

(a) the European Commission and (b) the EU Scientific Committee for Foods in relation to the technical difficulties and financial costs associated with the production of dossiers for consideration by the European Food Safety Authority of nutrients which are not included in the list of permitted ingredients for use in food supplements set out in Annexes 1 and 2 of the Food Supplements Directive. [103006]

The Government are not able to address the financial issues associated with the production of safety dossiers for consideration by the European Food Safety Authority. The Food Standards Agency has written to the European Commission with the aim of facilitating a meeting between United Kingdom stakeholders and representatives of the European Union Scientific Committee on Food to discuss the technical content of such dossiers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number and value of food supplement products on the UK market which contain nutrients omitted from Annexel of the Food Supplements Directive and for which no nutrient sources are listed in Annexe 2 of the Directive. [103008]

The Government have not made an assessment of the number of products on the United Kingdom market which contain nutrients and nutrient sources omitted from Annexes 1 and 2 of the Food Supplements Directive. In the UK, the retail market for vitamins, minerals a rid other supplements was valued at £335 million in 2000. Industry estimates suggest that up to 5 per cent. of the market may be affected, indicating a value in the region of £16.75 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what nutrients are on the market in the United Kingdom as ingredients in food supplements but are not listed in Schedules 2 and 3 of the proposed Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003 recently published by the Food Standards Agency; how long each of them have been on sale in the UK; and whether representations are under preparation by manufacturers for submission to European Food Safety Authority for consideration as possible additions to those annexes. [103009]

According to information provided by industry, the nutrients boron, cobalt, nickel, silicon, tin and vanadium are used as ingredients of food supplements currently on the market in the United Kingdom and are not listed in Schedules 2 and 3 of the draft Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003 issued for consultation in October 2002. The most recent information received by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) from industry indicates that manufacturers are not preparing safety dossiers for any of these nutrients. The FSA does not hold information on how long each of these nutrients has been on the UK market as ingredients of food supplements.