The ANH is once again in the front lines fighting the second stage of this Directive, the imposition of harmonised maximum levels across the European Union. And this is where the link with Codex becomes very interesting. Two European institutions, the European Commission (the regulator and so-called ‘risk manager’) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (the highest food safety body in Europe and the so-called ‘risk assessor’) are working in cahoots to limit supplement dosages well beneath any level that would be of any real benefit to Europeans. To do this they are using what the ANH has identified as bad science that seems more about manipulating data and statistics to meet a particular end than it does about trying to set meaningful maximum safe levels.
Now, it’s worth understanding that the European Commission is a particularly big voice in the Codex committee on nutrition (CCNFSDU). In fact, it’s most probably the biggest voice. Why, you may ask? Largely because it used to its advantage a change in Codex procedures that went through in 2003 that allows Codex members to vote in trading blocs. So, shrewdly, unelected representatives from the European Commission are now able to speak on behalf of up to nearly 500 million European citizens at Codex meetings. These officials are making it their business to ensure the European regulatory model is exported globally via Codex for future implementation into national laws.
It’s also noteworthy that the European Commission delegation at meetings of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) gets a huge amount of help from the German secretariat of the CCNFSDU and its Chair, Dr Rolf Grossklaus, whose own organization, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Germany wants to limit us to some of the lowest vitamin and mineral levels proposed by any authority. How does 5.4 mg of vitamin B6, 9 mcg of vitamin B12, 17 mg of niacinamide and 30 mcg of selenium sound to you? Or what about a ban on any supplement containing iron, manganese, copper or vanadium? That’s Dr Grossklaus for you.
Dr Rolf Grossklaus, Chair of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU)
As the practice of setting very low dose borderlines for supplements as foods becomes increasingly implemented, there will be ever greater pressure on countries to classify supplements—especially ones that occur at sufficient dose to be useful to the body—as drugs. Australia and Canada have already implemented ‘foods as drugs’ systems for supplements while European countries like Germany and Denmark have for many years imposed very low maximum dosages and look forward to the imminent day when the rest of Europe is forced to tow the same restrictive line.
Ironically, these countries have imposed dosages that are so low they’ve been successfully challenged four times by the European Commission (European Court of Justice Cases 387/99, 24/00, 150/00, 192/01) on the basis that these levels contravene the European Treaty by preventing the function of the single European market. But with the proposed new laws nearing implementation—laws that harmonise levels downwards to the lowest common denominator—the European Commission will have obviated the need for any further challenges of this sort!