The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today published new guidance for food businesses to safeguard consumer health from potentially harmful levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. Guidance for Food Businesses: The Safety of Vitamins and Minerals in Food Supplements has been published as the popularity of food supplements in Ireland continues to rise. The guidance will act as a resource for food businesses and it provides clarity on the upper intake level and maximum safe level for vitamins and minerals in food supplements for population groups in Ireland.
The seven nutrients which the guidance provides maximum safe levels for are: vitamin A; vitamin B6; vitamin C; vitamin D; beta carotene; folic acid; and magnesium. The introduction of maximum safe levels is for nutrients that may adversely affect health at high intakes. They are also the range of vitamins and minerals where some have been known to the FSAI to contain high doses in recent years. For other vitamins and minerals, the guidance provides clarity on the step-by-step approach to risk assessment in relation to the vitamin and mineral content of food supplements, taking into account dietary intakes.
Whilst the setting of maximum safe levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements is provided for in EU law, the precise levels for Ireland had not been established until now. The guidance highlights that maximum safe levels vary depending on the sub-group of the population and their dietary intake, as the likelihood of adverse effects at high intakes may differ with life stage (e.g. children, teens, adults, pregnancy, menopause and older people).
Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI stated that the guidance provides information for retailers, manufacturers and distributors of food supplements on the recommendations concerning the doses of some commonly used vitamins and minerals in their products.
“We hope that food businesses will now use this guidance having worked with us to develop it. The guidance will support food businesses to manufacture products so that the levels of nutrients in them are safe for consumers. The guidance also details the scientific examination food supplements undergo to assess whether they pose a risk to human health. For our part, we are thanking the environmental health officers from the HSE, the analytical chemists from the public analyst laboratories and the industry representatives for working with us to develop this guidance. It provides clarity around what is expected of food businesses to ensure consumers are protected from potentially harmful doses of vitamin and mineral food supplements.”
“This new guidance comes at a time when we are seeing a continuously increasing number of food supplements coming onto the Irish market. The FSAI recommends a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and plenty of exercise in our healthy eating guide. When it comes to vitamins and minerals our message to consumers is that ‘more is not always better’ and to be aware of what you are eating. The only food supplements that the FSAI recommends are 400µg folic acid per day for women who are sexually active and a 5µg vitamin D3 supplement every day for breastfed infants from birth to 12 months and for those infants taking less than 300mls or 10 fluid ounces of infant formula a day from birth to 12 months”, added Dr Byrne.
The new guidance is available to view and download for free at: https://www.fsai.ie/publications_vitamins_minerals_industry_guidance_060820.html