Dáil Éireann - Volume 657 - 18 June, 2008

Written Answers. - Food Supplements.

Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding the proposed reduction of ingredients in vitamins and minerals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23883/08]

  Deputy Mary Wallace: The Food Supplements Directive, 2002/46/EC, has been transposed into Irish law by Statutory Instrument No. 506 of 2007. That legislation is implemented by the Health Service Executive, under a Service Contract Agreement with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). This ensures that consumers in Ireland are protected by the harmonised EU rules on the sale of food supplements, in particular the labelling of food supplements and chemical form of vitamins and minerals they contain.

One of the objectives of the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) was to make provision for the European Commission to determine maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. The European Commission published a Discussion Paper on determining maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in June 2006.

The Irish response to this paper, issued in November 2006, gave Ireland’s view that the Commission should proceed on a cautious basis, setting maximum limits for as many vitamins and minerals as possible. It was considered vital that the safety of the general population and the needs of particular subgroups such as pregnant women, children, older people and those on various specialist diets be taken into account in formulating the position on this issue.

Discussions are ongoing at European level on the development of a methodology under which maximum safe levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements will be set. Those discussions will permit the European Commission and Member States to further develop future direction on this issue.