Commission hit with maximum vitamins transparency slur

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, European commission

Lobbyists have criticised the European Commission for failing to be
"open or transparent" in making a document about the
maximum mineral and vitamin levels freely available.

Consumers for Health Choice (CHC) has asked the Commission to post the June orientation paper - which indicates what may be used in calculating supplement levels - on the commission's website. CHC chairman Michael Peet wrote to health commissioner Markos Kyprianou to express his "profound regret and deep concern​" that the commission has not been open or transparent in the availability of the document, which it says has been sent to a "selected few​." However, the commission yesterday stuck by its decision not to post the paper on its website, and told it was not "the Commission's policy to publish orientation papers." ​ 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. This latest move from lobbyists show frustration is still rife among some sectors of the industry and information about what is going on seems to now be one of the key concerns. The orientation paper, from the Directorate General Health and Consumer Protection, stated: "One of the criteria [for setting levels]… are the upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals established by scientific risk assessment.​" The paper suggested that top levels may not be needed for some vitamins, including B1, B2 and K. The paper was criticised at the time for leaving "considerable grounds for concern." Peet said in his letter to Kyprianou: "It is difficult to understand why officials would choose to leak the Commission's Orientation Paper to only a handful of industry bodies and consumer organisations. Not only does it show very poor judgement on the Commission's part but it raises some serious questions about the Commission providing preferential treatment to a selected few whilst choosing to ignore the majority of stakeholders. ​ Peet added: "We also strongly regret that the European Commission has failed to publish this key document on their website. It seems astonishing the Commission refuses to make this document available to stakeholders considering it is largely based on the responses the Commission received to its earlier Discussion Paper on the setting of maximum and minimum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs."​ A Commission spokesperson said: "This paper is really only intended as a basis to start discussions with Member States and is not, as such, a formal document that we would post on the website. However, respecting the principles of openness and transparency, we are more than willing to send this paper to anyone who requests it." ​ CHC has remained vocal over the directive, and this month appealed directly to Commission president José Manuel Barroso in an advert in the newspaper European Voice. The group warned that the EU risks being seen as "aloof, distant and unresponsive"​ if it takes an overly restrictive approach to setting levels.

Related topics: Minerals, Vitamins & premixes

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