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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 11:33 GMT
Protest at natural medicines ban
Sharon Flynn, Holland and Barrett; Margaret Peet, General Nutrition Centres; Dr Brian Iddon, MP; and Sue Croft, Consumers for Health Choice
The campaign went to Westminster on Tuesday
Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John have given their backing to a campaign to stop a ban on the sale of "natural" vitamin, herb and mineral products in the UK.

The rock stars are among more than one million people who have signed a petition protesting at the plans contained in two directives from the European Union.


European proposals to regulate herbal products are spiralling out of control

Sue Croft

The proposals could see a ban on the sale of products such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Echinacea, St John's Wort and multi-vitamins and minerals.

The Food Supplement Directive, due to become law next year, contains a list of vitamin and mineral sources that may be used to make food supplements.

It also sets out labelling requirements and provides a framework for maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements to be set in the future.

Threat to retailers

Sue Croft, director of the independent group Consumers for Health Choice, said the measures would benefit multinational companies that trade in a limited range of low dose supplements.

But she said smaller, specialist independent retailers could face going out of business.

She said: "European proposals to regulate herbal products are spiralling out of control and the current plans will result in thousands of herbal products being wiped out.

"It's absolute madness that a herbal product such as garlic tablets will need to undergo the same licensing process as a vaccine for AIDS or treatment for cancer, but that is what we are facing.

"It is essential that the government and its agencies take action now to prevent the destruction of the herbal products industry in the UK and the destruction of consumer choice."

But a spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said: "People aren't going to see products coming off the shelves as soon as the directive comes in to force.

"Manufacturers whose products aren't on the list can provide a supporting dossier to the Commission of why it should be included and the Commission will consider that application."

"The products would still remain on sale until that time."

The Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive states a product can only be sold if it has already been on the market for 30 years, including 15 years on the European market.

Alternatively, herbal medicines can be licensed in the same way as pharmaceutical drugs but Mrs Croft said this is a costly and time-consuming process.

She added: "If you consider Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years and its beneficial, wonderful, healing properties. If we didn't have them already they would never come.

"It's enormously stupid when we have so many things to learn from these ancient medicines and its a giant loss for the consumers of Europe.

"No new herbal products can come on to the market anywhere in Europe."

See also:

13 Mar 02 | Health
11 Mar 02 | Health
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