The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised manufacturers that food supplement products with high levels of certain vitamins or minerals should carry warnings for consumers on their labels. The aim of the advice is to alert consumers to the potential for adverse effects.
The decision was made based on findings of the UK's Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) back in May 2003. These suggested that while the majority of food supplement products sold in the UK contain vitamins and minerals in amounts well below the safe upper levels set by the EVM, a small number of products contain higher amounts, which could cause adverse effects in some individuals.
These include some products containing vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, nickel, beta-carotene, nicotinic acid, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
In such cases the FSA wants warnings on pack labels. Following discussions with industry representatives, the FSA has issued a list of advisory label statements on its website and, has suggested reformulations for the vitamins beta-carotene, nicotinic acid and vitamin B6.
For example, a product containing over the recommended daily amount of 1000mg of vitamin C must say on the label "1000mg of vitamin C may cause mild stomach upset in sensitive individuals"
It says the timings of label changes should take place as soon as possible but may be made to coincide with other new labelling requirements.
The advice will also be sent to the European Commission (EC) with a view to incorporating it in future EC regulations.