§ Brian Cotter
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that the maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements as stated in Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive are set on the basis of safety; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
[holding answer 20 June 2003]: Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive sets out principles for setting maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. The Government's view is that these should be based on consideration of safety rather than supposed need, so as to neither unnecessarily limit consumer choice nor unduly restrict trade.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is responsible for negotiations on this issue, takes every opportunity to press this case bilaterally with other Member States. In May, the FSA wrote to other Member States to advise them of the conclusions of the United Kingdom Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) on safe intakes of vitamins and minerals. The EVM's advice will form the basis of the UK's position when substantive discussions at EU level take place in due course.