Blair opposes EU's directive to outlaw up to 5,000 vitamins

Up to 5,000 vitamin and food supplements could be swept from the shelves of health-food shops under an EU directive due to come into force on 1 August.

Campaigners warn that despite a European ruling that the Food Supplements Directive is illegal, an amended version could be used to ban products used by a third of British women and a quarter of men.

Tony Blair, who raised the issue in talks with EU leaders this month, is known to oppose the directive on the grounds that consumers should be free to choose and the state should not interfere in products that do not cause harm. "He is driven on this by his anti-regulation instincts. But he is probably also influenced by Cherie," a source said.

Cherie Blair is reportedly a user of vitamins and supplements and her former personal assistant Carole Caplin campaigns on the issue.

Opponents of the directive say the Government is leaving it too late to influence the European Commission before a ruling by the European Court of Justice on 12 July.

Jenny Seagrove, the actress, said: "In the past fortnight we have heard new evidence about ibuprofen's link with heart attacks, yet here we have vitamins and supplements being swept off the shelves that never harmed anybody. Who is going to benefit when the supplements market shrinks? The pharmaceutical companies. "

Sue Croft, of Consumers for Health Choice, said: "We can't sit and wait for the EU Commission to make a decision. We need to persuade them now. The Government promised before the election that it did not want to see products lost that were legitimately on the market. There are 200 nutrients and nutrient sources that could be banned, affecting 5,000 products."

The EU directive is designed to tighten controls on the market for products sold as natural remedies, vitamin supplements and health foods. Instead of allowing a vitamin or mineral to be sold unless it has been proved harmful, the directive insists that only those proved safe can be sold. Permissible doses will also be capped.

The directive approves 140 substances for use in supplements – fewer than half of those in use. Substances can be added to the list only if a scientific dossier has been compiled and approved by the European Food Safety authority. That would cost from £80,000 to £250,000 per product.

In April the Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice, Leendert Geelhoed, declared the directive illegal. He found that the procedure for adding supplements to the approved list was confusing and said the directive had "the transparency of a black box". But he said the principle of an approved list conforms to EU law.

The directive was approved by EU governments in 2002 and manufacturers given until the end of July 2005 to prove their ingredients safe. More than 300 doctors and scientists wrote a letter of protest to Tony Blair, one million people signed a petition, and there were motions opposing the law from both the Commons and the Lords.

Supplements under threat

NATURE'S PLUS SOURCE OF LIFE

Contains banned amino acid chelates of magnesium, iron and calcium, zinc picolinate, and selenomethionine.

Vitamin doses too high.

VIRIDIAN TRACE MINERAL COMPLEX

Banned boron, vanadium, chromium picolinate, manganese chelate and selenomethionine.

VITABIOTICS MENOPACE

Contains boron, chromium picolinate, and selenomethionine, plus other nutrients.

VIRIDIAN HIGH-FIVE B-COMPLEX

B-vitamins in too-high doses plus magnesium ascorbate.

HOLLAND & BARRETT VITAMIN C-1,000 mg WITH BIOFLAVONOIDS

Dose unacceptable to EU.

HOLLAND & BARRETT SELENIUM

Contains banned selenium yeast.

HOLLAND & BARRETT ABC PLUS

Vanadium, nickel, tin and boron.

SOLGAR POTASSIUM AMINO ACID COMPLEX

Banned forms of potassium.

SOLGAR CHELATED MOLYBDENUM

No molybdenum allowed.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

    Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

    £30,000: Beverley James: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a person looki...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower