Botanicals: EHPM Urges Best Practice Based Solution
A European Parliament workshop hosted by Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont, in cooperation with EHPM, today examined closely the market in Europe for botanical food supplements as the Commission prepares to launch a public consultation on the issue.
In his introductory remarks, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis hinted that the Commission’s public consultation on how to address the 2,000 pending botanical health claims would be launched shortly and that the Commission understood the specific nature of the sector and the need to develop an appropriate regulatory approach.
The results of a recent study into the market in the European Union by French market research company Expansion Consulteam were presented. The study estimated that the overall value of market for botanical food supplements in the European Union was €6.5 billion with the market as a whole valued at €10.3 billion. Over 2,000 companies and 601,000 jobs are linked to the botanical food supplement market based on the study.
Bruno Scarpa from the Italian Ministry of Health presented a case study of the Italian regulatory system for botanicals which includes a positive list of plants and a specific set of claims based on traditional use that are permitted for use.
EHPM Chair Michel Horn tackled the question of how to put in place a system that guarantees safe, high quality and effective food supplement products while ensuring that the market remains accessible for Europe’s innovative SMEs. He touched on examples of best practice in place in various Member States that could be transferable to EU level. He also outlined a possible process towards gradual EU wide harmonisation of the safety of botanicals. Possible initiatives mooted include:
- Online list of products legally placed on the market easily accessible to consumers
- Auditing systems to guarantee application of best practice in manufacturing
- A proportional system for assessing health claims that promotes innovation and takes into account all supporting scientific evidence including established tradition of use
- Gradual creation of positive and negative lists of botanicals at EU level for safety management. Botanicals where no consensus exists between Member States on status to remain subject to national rules until consensus reached at EU level.
A lively panel debate featuring MEPs Pascal Arimont (EPP, BE), Nicola Caputo (S&D, IT) and Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE) focussed on the need to learn from national best practice when building a legislative framework at EU level. The growing danger of internet sales from third countries of products with dangerous ingredient and dosage levels was also touched on. The presentations from the workshop can be downloaded below and the pictures from the event can be viewed by clicking here.
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