Member states agree on minimum vitamin and mineral levels
fortified foods have reached a "general agreement" that
the lowest levels should be 15 per cent of the recommended daily
allowance (RDA) - but questions remain on maximum levels.
According to the trade group European Health Product Manufacturers, which attended the meeting, said: "There was general agreement that 15 per cent was the appropriate figure, not 30 per cent." The suggestion came from the Commission, which added that 15 per cent should be considered unless any evidence is submitted supporting another level. But lobbyists at Consumers for Health Choice have said there needs to be more clarification on how this might work. At the moment, in order for a fortified food to claim it contains a vitamin or minerali it must have a minimum of 15 per cent of that vitamin or mineral. But for supplements, director Sue Croft says it may be asking too much. She said: "If you have a multivitamin that has a dozen nutrients and you want to put in 15 per cent of calcium then it might be too much for supplement companies to jam in." The group is seeking further clarification from the Commission on its minimum level suggestion. Member states are due to meet in March to continue their work on setting levels. Battlefield However, the main battlefield over drawing up the piece of legislation is setting the maximum levels. Draft figures for maximum levels are expected from the Commission over the next few weeks. Under the 2002 Food Supplements Directive and the fortified foods regulation, upper and lower levels for both nutrients would be harmonised across the bloc. The proposal has caused concern across members states who currently differ radically on what are acceptable levels in supplements. Many fear a heavy handed and restrictive approach to high doses would cause financial shockwaves across the industry. EHPM said that the working party also has general acceptance that a model suggested by the European Food Safety Authority to calculate upper levels as the basis for establishing upper levels. Across Europe levels for minerals and vitamins differ radically from country to country. A study by the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP) found Belgium, for example, had maximum levels which varied between 1.5 and three times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) with a minimum level of 1.5 per cent RDA. By comparison Denmark varied on the maximum level from 1.8 to 1300 times RDA, and a higher minimum level of 30 to 33 per cent of RDA. Some countries had no minimum level, including Estonia, which had a maximum level inline with RDA. The UK and The Netherlands are traditionally two of the most lenient markets. High dose products account for 12 to 15 per cent of the £220m (€325m) UK vitamin and mineral market, and the UK industry would suffer a severe blow if the EU legislation were to proscribe the sale of high dose products.