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Collective vision, constructive goals, common sense

Esther Mills-Roberts
Communications Manager, Health Food Manufacturers' Association

If there's one thing that the HFMA is well-known for, it's our collective vision. Without doubt, our extensive membership (including 29 new members in the last 18 months) really packs a collective punch when needed. This experience, intellect and insight informs the way that we work, and means that we're able to put some practical, common-sense arguments in front of key decision-making movers and shakers.

This is a journey that, over the years, many have walked alongside the HFMA. We strongly value our working partnerships within the trade, and believe passionately in the power of natural health, with the products and services under this umbrella, in helping to keep our nation healthy. To this end, we created constructive initiatives during the pandemic and beyond, to keep natural products at the forefront of the dialogue on many different levels, extending reach to retailers and consumers of natural health, through We're looking forward to 2022 and the chance to work more closely with many of you as this campaign and concept develops.

And so, what of common sense?

Regulatory rumbles are never far away and, as we mentioned last time with efforts to shift the regulatory status of the term 'Probiotic', we see further opportunities to assess and influence factors affecting the way that supplements and botanicals can be sold and marketed to consumers.

We can choose three examples of this:

At present, there are thousands of CBD products that are currently illegally placed on the UK market. Despite over 800 applications for 'approved' product status being received, only four validations covering 43 products have been given. It was expected that there would be more throughout August, as we were aware that 200 applications were being processed, but it appears that things are at a standstill. We know that companies with products on the market that aren't on the approved/validated list will be offered voluntary withdrawal before enforcement options are implemented.

After Brexit, many wondered how the newly formed UK's post-Brexit Nutrition and Health Claims Committee (UKNHCC) would consider applications and form its scientific opinions. The wait is now over, with the first application for the claim 'Lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin together improve the visual performance measure known as contrast sensitivity'. The Committee awarded an insufficient evidence opinion. Therefore, it appears that the UK is following the EC model, and the HFMA will continue to push for a common-sense approach to health claims that we believe is in the best interest of the consumer.

Those in the industry who have been around for some time will know just how important the dialogue around supplement safety is in establishing maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals for food supplements and fortified foods, and the EC timeline to complete this is by 2024. This information isn't just important to supplement manufacturers, of course, but also to practitioners who are working with combinations of nutritional supplements which might also be used alongside fortified foods. The HFMA has its finger on the pulse and is keeping a close eye on discussions within the EC, in particular the positive work of EHPM, the European Federation of which the HFMA is a founder member.

At a time when more companies have come into the supplements industry keen and full of enthusiasm, the HFMA is a lifeline to expertise that can advocate for, and help safeguard, the interests of their business.

It's a chance to experience the power of collective vision, constructive goals and common sense.

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