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Food supplements | EFSA – EFSA news

Many pages on this website have been translated using automatic translation. All reasonable efforts have been made to provide an accurate translation. The reference text is the English version.
Food supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients (i.e. mineral A naturally occurring inorganic element (e.g. calcium, iron) that is needed in the diet for normal growth, development and health. and vitamins) or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect that are marketed in “dose” form (e.g. pills, tablets, capsules, liquids in measured doses). A wide range of nutrients and other ingredients might be present in food supplements, including, but not limited to, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, fibre and various plants and herbal extracts.
Food supplements are intended to correct nutritional deficiencies, maintain an adequate intake A dietary recommendation used when there isn’t enough data to calculate an average requirement. An adequate intake is the average nutrient level consumed daily by a typical healthy population that is assumed to be adequate for the population’s needs. of certain nutrients, or to support specific physiological functions. They are not medicinal products and as such cannot exert a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action. Therefore their use is not intended to treat or prevent diseases in humans or to modify physiological functions.
In the EU, food supplements are regulated as foods. Harmonised legislation regulates the vitamins and minerals, and the substances used as their sources, which can be used in the manufacturing of food supplements. For ingredients other than vitamins and minerals, the European Commission has established harmonised rules to protect consumers against potential health risks and maintains a list of substances which are known or suspected to have adverse effects on health and the use of which is therefore controlled.
In May 2018, the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) adopted guidance on the evaluation of sources of nutrients and bioavailability A term to describe how much of a substance gets into the blood through a variety of routes, including the diet. It may refer to vitamins, additives, pesticides or medicines. of nutrient from the sources.
In December 2017, EFSA published the Summary report on Dietary Reference Values for nutrients. Earlier in 2017, EFSA published the Overview on Tolerable Upper Intake Levels as derived by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).
2021 – 2012

EFSA carries out the safety assessments of six substances used as ingredients in food supplements, for which safety concerns were raised either by the EC or Member States, namely: Ephedra speciesYohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe (K. Schum) Pierre ex Beille)Hydroxyanthracene derivativesCathechins from green teaMonacolins from red yeast rice and alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid) and the risk of insulin autoimmune syndrome (Hirata’s disease).

The mandate of the EFSA NDA Panel is broadened to include the assessment of nutrient sources and requests for safety assessment under Art. 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006.

The EFSA NDA Panel publishes an opinion laying down the general principles for establishing Dietary Reference Values ( DRV Dietary reference values (DRVs) are the complete set of reference values for nutrient intake comprising Population Reference Intakes (PRI), Average Requirements (AR), Adequate Intakes (AI), Lower Threshold Intakes (LTI) and Reference Intakes (RI). DRVs are typically used as a basis for reference values in food labelling and for establishing food-based dietary guidelines.) and started the review of DRVs for macro and micronutrients established by the Scientific Committee on Food in 1993.

EFSA and the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) compile all opinions identifying possible adverse health effects of individual micronutrients at intakes in excess of dietary requirements and, where possible, establish tolerable upper  intake The amount of a substance (e.g. nutrient or chemical) that is ingested by a person or animal via the diet. levels (UL) for different  population Community of humans, animals or plants from the same species. groups.
Between 2005 and 2009, EFSA carried out a comprehensive assessment of substances that are permitted to be used as sources of vitamins and minerals in food supplements in the EU. The assessment included both the evaluation of the safety of a nutrient source at the intake levels suggested by the applicant, and the bioavailability of the nutrient from the source i.e. the effectiveness with which the mineral or vitamin is released into the body.
Companies wishing to market a nutrient source not included in the permitted list have to submit an application to the European Commission. Under Directive 2002/46/EC, EFSA then prepares a scientific opinion Opinions include risk assessments on general scientific issues, evaluations of an application for the authorisation of a product, substance or claim, or an evaluation of a risk assessment. to support the European Commission’s evaluation of the request. Based on EFSA’s work, the European Commission reviews and updates the list of vitamin or mineral substances that may be used in food supplements.
If a substance intended to be used in food supplements does not have a history of safe use in the EU before 1997, EFSA is requested to provide a scientific opinion on its safety according to Regulation (EC) No 2015/2283 on novel foods.
Moreover, EFSA has performed a comprehensive evaluation of the possible adverse health effects of individual micronutrients at intakes exceeding the dietary requirements and, where possible, established tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for different population groups. ULs represent the highest level of chronic daily intake of a nutrient that is not likely to pose a risk of adverse health effects to humans. The ULs defined by EFSA and by the former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) are used as a reference in EFSA’s evaluations of the safety of nutrient sources added to food supplements. Throughout this work EFSA provides support to the European Commission in establishing maximum limits for vitamins and minerals in food supplements and fortified foods.
For all substances added to foods, including food supplements, that are claimed to have an effect on the nutritional or health status of consumers, EFSA carries out an assessment in line with Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims.
Under the circumstances described in Art. 8 of Regulation 1925/2006, i.e. “…where a substance other than vitamins or minerals … is added to foods … under conditions that would result in the ingestion of amounts of this substance greatly exceeding those reasonably expected … under normal conditions … and/or would otherwise represent a potential risk to consumers…”, EFSA may be requested by the European Commission to assess the available information to support a decision on the safety of the substance. Based on EFSA’s assessment the European Commission may decide to include the specific substance in a list of substances whose use in foods in the EU is prohibited, restricted or under scrutiny (see Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006).
According to the EU General Food Law Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, food supplements are considered as foodstuffs. Responsibility for the safety of these products lies with the food business operator placing the product on the market.
The reference EU legislation in the area of food supplements is Directive 2002/46/EC, which establishes harmonised lists of the vitamins and minerals substances used in the manufacture of food supplements and the labelling requirements for these products. EFSA provides scientific opinions to support the evaluations carried out by the European Commission.
The directive lays down the rules applicable only to the use of vitamins and minerals in the manufacture of food supplements. The use of substances other than vitamins or minerals in the manufacture of food supplements may be governed by national rules or may be subject to other specific EU legislation.
The latter is the case for:
The addition of nutrients or other substances to fortify a food does not fall within the definition of food supplement and it is addressed by Regulation (EC) 1925/2006.
Finally, as with all the other food products, food supplements may contain additives (e.g. sweeteners, colours, coating agents). In the EU, only food additives that are specifically authorised for use in this food category according to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 can be added to food supplements.
Because food supplements are considered as food, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, importer, supplier or distributor to ensure that a food supplement placed on the market is safe.
Member States may, for monitoring purposes, request notification of the placing on the market in their territory of a food supplement. Once the product is on the market, the competent authority of the Member State may monitor its use in that territory.
List of competent authorities of the EU Member States
Annex I of Directive 2002/46/EC lays down a list of vitamins and minerals that may be added for nutritional purposes to food supplements (e.g. vitamin C, calcium). Annex II of the same directive contains a list of substances that are authorised as source of the vitamins and minerals listed in Annex I (e.g. sodium-L-ascorbate as a source of vitamin C, calcium lactate as a source of calcium).
The use of ingredients other than vitamins and minerals (e.g. botanicals) in the manufacture of food supplements may also be authorised under other specific legislations depending on the nature of the substance (e.g. novel foods, substances for the fortification of food, foods for specific groups).
Substances not falling in the above categories may still be found in food supplements present on national markets subject to provisions in the specific national legislations.
In addition to the substances added for nutritional purposes, food supplements may also contain food additives, i.e. substances added to the products for technological reasons (e.g. coating agents for tablets, sweeteners). The list of food additives that are permitted for use in food supplements can be found in Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008.
There are at present no binding maximum and minimum levels for the ingredients of food supplements defined in the European Union. Directive 2002/46/EC envisages the maximum and minimum levels being defined in consultation between the European Commission, Members States and interested stakeholders. Due to the complex nature of the issue and the divergent views expressed by the parties involved, this process is ongoing and no final conclusion has been reached. The activities of EFSA in establishing tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) of individual micronutrients for different population groups provide support to the European Commission in establishing maximum limits for vitamins and minerals in food supplements and fortified foods.
Directive 2002/46/EC sets out specific labelling requirements for food supplements. These include:
In addition, presentation and advertising must not attribute to food supplements the property of preventing, treating or curing a human disease, or refer to such properties.
The European Commission, on its own initiative or on the basis of information provided by the Member States and following an assessment by EFSA, may take a decision to include a certain substance in a list of substances whose use in foods is prohibited, restricted or under scrutiny. This may happen when the addition of a substance in food products increases its exposure Concentration or amount of a particular substance that is taken in by an individual, population or ecosystem in a specific frequency over a certain amount of time. to levels greatly exceeding the normal consumption and/or poses a potential risk to consumers. This procedure is defined in art. 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 and the substances whose use in foods is prohibited, restricted or under scrutiny are listed in its Annex III.


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