Euro-MPs vote for clampdown on
Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
THE European Parliament voted yesterday for a
clampdown on unfettered sales of vitamins and mineral
supplements, defying a lobbying campaign by the health food
The parliament's computer system crashed under the
strain of thousands of speed-dial emails, wildly claiming that the
new directive would ban 300 popular supplements and drive British
health stores out of business.
In Strasbourg, Euro-MPs were accosted by activists
handing out a propaganda video accusing five European commissioners
of corruptly colluding with big pharmaceutical firms in an attempt
to destroy the alternative network of homoeopathic and natural
The new law will bring Britain into line with the
rest of Europe over the next 10 years, requiring manufacturers of
vitamins and minerals to carry out scientific tests proving that
their products are safe.
The labels on pills will recommend maximum safe
doses, highlight possible risks and side-effects and remind users
that supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet.
At the moment, any supplement can be sold in Britain
unless it is shown to be harmful, a policy that reflects the legal
tradition of English common law that allows people to do what they
want unless specifically banned. By contrast, Europe's Napoleonic
legal system starts from the premise that everything is banned until
Only 50 or so vitamins and minerals are on the safe
list in most EU countries, so rarer products such as Selenium
compounds used to treat cancer can only be obtained through
prescription drugs, generating a much higher profit for the big drug
companies. Dr Robert Verkerk, spokesman for the Free Choice for
Supplements Alliance, said: "The directive would massively reduce
the freedom of consumers to make their own informed choices."
Small companies producing many vitamins and minerals
considered a life-saver by people with unusual ailments would have
great trouble meeting the costs of full testing on each product.
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