European Court Rules on Vitamins and Minerals; CRN Responds

September 20, 2010

A European Commission (EC) court has published its review of a French court case concerning whether or not EC member states can set their own limits on maximum intake levels for vitamins and minerals. The original French proceedings involved food supplement manufacturers, including Solgar Vitamins (Ferrières-en-Brie, France) against French Ministries, including the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries.

A European Commission (EC) court has published its review of a French court case concerning whether or not EC member states can set their own limits on maximum intake levels for vitamins and minerals. The original French proceedings involved food supplement manufacturers, including Solgar Vitamins (Ferrières-en-Brie, France) against French Ministries, including the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries.

In its response, the EC court declared that member states could enforce and develop their own maximums for food supplements in the absence of values established by the greater EC.

Concerning the sensitivity of population subgroups, such as children, the EC court declared that maximums should not be set low enough to protect all population groups, but that labeling guidance should be used to instruct proper use for all concerned populations.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC) voiced support for portions of the EC court...s response, while also expressing concerns in several areas. One concern is that Member States might set very low maximums for substances with no known adverse effects, where no official risk assessment values have been placed.

'The Court, of course, reacted to the Food Supplements Directive as it was written in 2002, and did not consider that a procedure for eradicating the problem of the absence of a UL (tolerate upper level intake) was published in the 2006 FAO/WHO report on nutrient risk assessment,' said John Hathcock, PhD, CRN senior vice president of scientific and international affairs.

Hathcock mentions vitamin B-12 as an example where risk assessment has been independently applied. He notes that France has set a maximum of 3 micrograms for safe use (and any higher intake is regulated as a drug).