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04 October 2018 / news

Dutch developments on food supplements

Food supplements are not fully harmonized by EU legislation yet.

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They are regulated in Member States by differing national rules which is why the maximum levels of vitamins and minerals may vary per country. This can be challenging for the FBOs who are active in a cross-border context.

In The Netherlands, food products, in principle, may not contain vitamins and minerals unless explicitly provided for by law (Warenwetbesluit Bereiding en behandeling van levensmiddelen). Regarding the maximum levels of vitamin B6, there have been long discussions at national level due to health effects experienced by consumers. EFSA-recommended safe daily upper limit of vitamin B6 is set at 25mg for adults. As a consequence, the Dutch authorities decided to change the law. The new regulation of 20 August 2018 (Warenwetregeling Vrijstelling voedingssupplementen) establishes the maximum level for vitamin B6 in food supplements at 21mg for adults.

It also introduces several age warning statements for children aged 1 to 17 years old to be included in the label, depending on the level of vitamin B6 in the product.

The regulation entered into force on 1 October 2018. Food supplements placed on the market before that date can be sold until exhaustion of stocks.

It is also worth noting that in September 2018, the Dutch Health Council (Gezondheidsraad) has adopted several (policy-)recommendations for dietary reference levels - not beyond maximum levels - of 25 vitamins and minerals for adults, of which half differ from the recommendations from the EFSA (due to Dutch peculiarities). For instance, the EFSA recommended levels for vitamin A, calcium and fluoride are not followed by the Council. The recommendations for non-adults will follow at a later stage.

Should you have any questions or remarks, please do not hesitate to contact your regular Loyens & Loeff adviser or Victor van Ahee.