Good News for everyone who takes an interest in their own health! When has more government ever been a good answer to any problem?
By JONATHAN PRYNN
A THREATENED ban on hundreds of vitamin and food supplements was declared illegal in the European Court of Justice today.
The proposed ban, which would have affected up to 5,000 widely used products, was ruled “invalid” by the court’s main legal adviser.
The decision in Luxembourg follows a legal challenge from the British health food industry.
It means new EU safety regulations due to come into force here in August will almost certainly be scrapped.
Campaigners against the ban, including Cherie Blair’s former lifestyle guru Carole Caplin, said they were “thrilled” by the ruling. The regulations would have stopped the sale of 300 “unsafe” nutrients, ranging from boron, used to help osteoporosis, to zinc piclinate, said to boost the immune system.
A third of British women and a quarter of men take food supplements in a market estimated to be worth at least Pounds 335million a year.
On the Continent, however, health food products are traditionally treated more like medicines.
The health food rules infringe basic EU principles of “legal protection, legal certainty and sound administration”, said an Advocate-General at the European Court.
Although today’s declaration is merely advisory, it is rare for the full court to ignore the advice of the Advocate-General.
The final verdict will delivered in June.
The rules, spelled out in a Food Supplements Directive, were designed to tighten controls on the growing market in products sold under the health food heading - natural remedies, vitamin supplements and mineral plant extracts.
The directive was approved by EU governments in 2002, but manufacturers were given until 12 July this year to submit scientific dossiers proving their ingredients are safe. Once approved, the ingredients and products go on a “positive list” of substances permitted for use in health foods.
The British Health Food Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Health Stores and the Alliance for Natural Health argued that the law is unnecessary and the costs of compliance would be prohibitive for many small firms.
The plans caused huge controversy in Britain - prompting a petition of more than a million signatures, a letter of protest to Tony Blair from more than 300 doctors and scientists and motions opposing the European directive law in both Houses of Parliament.