§ Baroness Lestor of Eccles
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans they have to review the safety of vitamin and mineral supplements.
§ Lord Donoughue
The Government are concerned about the potential adverse effects of high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements. In view of these concerns, the Minister of Public Health and my honourable friend the Minister of State of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have agreed that an ad hoc Expert Group should be established to consider the general principles on which maximum levels of vitamins and minerals in supplements sold under food law could be set. The Expert Group will review the available science, and recommend maximum levels for a range of nutrients if182WA appropriate. The Expert Group may also wish to provide advice on the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods. It will report to the Food Advisory Committee (FAC), which will consider the group's findings and make recommendations to Ministers. The Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) will also wish to consider the report as it may have implications for the way that medicinal products containing vitamins and minerals are licensed. The conclusions of the review will also be used to inform any discussions in Brussels on the possible harmonisation of controls on food supplements and on fortified foods.
The Expert Group will comprise a number of experts from the Committee of Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA); the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT); CSM and FAC.
In order to ensure transparency in the process, an observer from each of the main interest groups—the health food industry, the food industry, complementary medicine interests and consumer organisations—will be invited to meetings of the Expert Group. Interested parties will also be given the opportunity to make written submissions to the Expert Group. It is expected that the Expert Group will take 18 months to two years to complete its task.
The establishment of this Expert Group will not affect the decision to introduce legislation to control the maximum level of Vitamin B6 allowed in dietary supplements.