On 20 April 2023, the EHPM Conference on Quality and Safety in Food Supplements brought together European and National Authorities, industry experts and EU stakeholders, to discuss the food supplement sector’s best practice to provide safe and high-quality products and implement industry proactive proposals to ensure the highest standards.

The European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM) launched the third edition of its Quality Guide for food supplements, during its Conference on “Quality and Safety in Food Supplements: from Farm to Fork”, held in the Sofitel Brussels Europe on April 20, 2023.

The EHPM Quality Guide is a comprehensive tool, which was developed by EHPM technical experts from the industry and provides food business operators (FBOs) with the necessary guidelines for guaranteeing high-quality and safety standards from the beginning of production to the post-market stage, as well as ensuring the satisfaction of the increasing number of European citizens who rely on food supplements to help maintain a balanced diet and reach their optimal nutritional status, while reducing the risk factor of certain nutrition-related diseases,” explained Martin Last (HFMA) when launching the third edition of the Guide with Jonathan Griffith (IHTA), Chairs of the EHPM Working Groups that developed the document.

In fact, as shown by Thomas Lochot from IQVIA at the opening of the conference, an increasing number of European citizens rely on food supplements to meet their daily nutritional needs.

As such, “the food supplement sector is composed of companies committed to placing safe, truthful, and high-quality products on the European market, while making sure that they comply with high-quality and safety standards, as well as national and European legal requirements”, emphasised Livia Menichetti, EHPM Director General (in the picture below).

The EHPM Conference highlighted the food supplement sector’s dedication to providing consumers with safe and high-quality products in Europe, as well as its efforts to develop and implement tools and proactive proposals to guarantee the highest standards throughout the development, production, marketing and post-marketing process. With this spirit, EHPM welcomed the suggestions from Fréderique Henderickx from Normec Foodcare, on how to continuously improve the EHPM Quality Guide which she described as a “top level” tool to frame “how to do the right thing and the things right”.

These were the main drivers for the organisation of this conference, together with EHPM’s commitment to fostering a constructive and transparent dialogue between industry representatives, European and National regulators and stakeholders, in order to address the challenges that the sector is facing and to cooperate towards the full functioning of the internal market and continuing to ensure consumer safety and choice.

In fact, the event featured several exchanges between the representatives of the European Commission, the industry and stakeholders in the audience, as highlighted by Ms Menichetti: “By bringing together various actors involved in the food supplement sector, we can foster meaningful interactions and drive progress towards common objectives. We are glad to have witnessed such active engagement from our attendees throughout the conference, as well as the level of interaction between the European Commission, national auditors, the industry and EU stakeholders.”

The event hosted representatives of the European Commission from the two Units responsible for food supplements (DG SANTE A.1) and Novel Foods (DG SANTE E.2).

The representative of DG SANTE A.1 offered a broader perspective towards better harmonisation for the European framework for food supplements, outlining the current work regarding the setting of maximum and minimum levels for vitamins and minerals. She highlighted the importance of such events enabling a direct dialogue between all involved actors and allowing the European Commission to hear industry’s expectations. She also highlighted the importance of engaging in the discussions with an approach open to compromise.

The representatives of DG SANTE E.2 provided the participants with an informative and insightful presentation on one of the hot topics of the food supplement sector: novel foods. They went through the authorisation processes for novel foods and presented the new platform of the Novel Food Catalogue, to be officially launched in the coming months. They also listened to the difficulties and proactive proposals of the sector concerning novel foods.

Moreover, other EHPM initiatives were presented during the Conference. On the one hand, as part of EHPM efforts to ensure the highest standards of safety and quality for food supplements from the production process to the post-market stage, EHPM Chair Antonino Santoro presented the approach of the Federation regarding post-marketing vigilance. This includes two essential initiatives: a Pilot Vigilance Project in the context of the ongoing scrutiny period for red yeast rice and the ongoing work on the definition of post-marketing vigilance guidelines for all food supplements.

On the other hand, Magdalini Selanikli (SESDI), Chair of the EHPM Task Force on Novel Foods, stressed how “retrospective classification of foods which are not novel as novel undermines legal certainty of what constitutes ‘novel food’ or not, undermines the trust of the industry to the law, as well as how this may impact on the confidence of consumers that food is safe”. She also presented the objective and ongoing work of the Task Force and reaffirmed EHPM’s commitment to engaging with all parties and finding practical solutions to this challenging topic.

Finally, the conference concluded with a dynamic and engaging round-table discussion, where Claire Guignier from the French Food Supplement Association “Synadiet” moderated the interactions between DG SANTE E.2 and the food supplements industry, represented by Antonino Santoro (EHPM), Magdalini Selanikli (SESDI), and Nicolas Cappelaere (Laboratoires INELDEA/Synadiet). This discussion enabled attendees to gain more insights into the challenges faced by the industry and the efforts being made to ensure the safety and quality of food supplements for consumers.

As EHPM, we support high-quality and safety standards, post-marketing vigilance and fostering transparent communication. These are key pillars of our efforts and commitments to guarantee consumers’ protection, but also help reduce the scepticism towards the food supplement sector. We believe that working collaboratively and consolidating a constructive dialogue with European and National Authorities is crucial in finding concrete solutions to the challenges faced by our industry,” concluded EHPM Chair Antonino Santoro during the round-table discussion.

To see more:

The programme of the event with the biographies of the speakers is accessible here.

The photos of the event are accessible here.

The after movie of the event is accessible here.