Dear Beate Kettlitz,
La Leva di Archimede is an association of consumers of food supplements and natural products as well as users of natural medicines. Our objective is to assure freedom of choice in health matters. We are on the internet at http://www.laleva.cc
We have read the october bulletin of BEUC (http://www.beuc.org/public/brief/br2000/bb33e.htm#vitamin)
where in the section "Vitamin & Mineral tablets come under scrutiny" you state that claims for vitamins and minerals are "often misleading" and that these products "present a real health risk for consumers".
We strongly disagree with you on both these statements, because the facts are different.
Claims: It is forbidden to make any health related claims for supplements under most national legislations and therefore, consumers cannot even be informed of the positive properties for health of vitamin and mineral substances without the producer or seller running the risk of being prosecuted. If anything, there is a lack of information due to strict legislation that favours pharmaceutical products to the exclusion of natural alternatives.
Health risk: Actual statistics show that supplements present no appreciable health risk. They are used world wide by millions of consumers, and their use in Europe is rapidly increasing, without any actual cases of damage to health. Even if there are (exceedingly few) cases of damage to health, they are so rare as to be completely outweighed by the positive effects that vitamin and mineral supplementation and other natural health products have. Even normal food has hundreds of times more adverse reactions associated with it than food supplements. The death toll from approved and properly prescribed and used medicinal (pharmaceutical) products, (NOT from any supplements) has risen to be the third or fourth most prevalent cause of death in several countries.
If you want to protect consumers, please take these differences into account and in your representations to members of the European Parliament and the Commission underline the unsurpassed safety record of supplements as per actual statistics. (Attached is a compilation of statistical information in this regard).
The call for regulation, especially restrictive regulation for supplements that is alluded to in your bulletin is therefore not in agreement with the aims of consumer protection. Such regulation will lead to damaging consumer health (more people will resort to pharmaceutical medicines with the attendent dangers of damage to health and even death). We therefore propose that you review your data in this respect and adjust your campaign accordingly.
Of course we would be happy to supply you with further material and arguments in favour of consumer choice and consumer health.
La Leva di Archimede