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Food Supplements

Volume 408: debated on Tuesday 1 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last discussed his policy objectives for food supplements with counterparts in other European Union member states; with whom such discussions were held; what progress was made; and if he will make a statement. [119831]

The Government are firmly committed to the view that, in the interests of consumer choice, the law should allow food supplements that are safe and properly labelled to be freely marketed.The most recent formal discussions on this issue took place in the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses in November 2002 and involved representatives of all European Union Member States other than Luxembourg; no firm conclusions were reached. The next stage at EU level will be discussions about maximum permitted levels of nutrients in food supplements. The Government's view is that these should be based on safety considerations rather than supposed need so as to neither unnecessarily limit consumer choice nor unduly restrict trade.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is responsible for negotiations on this issue, takes every opportunity to press this case bilaterally with Member States. In addition, in May, the FSA wrote to EU Member States to advise them of the conclusions of the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) on safe intakes of vitamins and minerals. The EVM's advice will form the basis of the United Kingdom's position when substantive discussions at EU level take place in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts with regard to the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements; and if he will make a statement. [120764]

[holding answer 20 June 2003]: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South-East (Dr. Iddon) today.