Drug adulteration of food supplements: A threat to public health in the European Union?

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Abstract

Food supplements have been playing an increasingly important role in the consumers' awareness nowadays. They are widespread and – according to popular belief – healthier and safer than synthetic drugs. In the European Union (EU) food supplements are classified as foodstuffs and thus not subjected to any specific safety assessments prior to commercialisation. With the growing popularity of food supplements, there is an increased need for more effective control of their production and distribution. The aim of this study was to examine the food notifications, recorded since 2003 via the EU RASFF database with particular regard to recent years, as well as to evaluate the involvement of different EU state structures in the fight against drug-adulterated food supplements with regard to efficacy and safety. In recent years, the number of RASFF notifications in the category of dietetic foods, food supplements and fortified foods, especially related to unauthorised composition, has increased significantly. The majority of EU Member States authorities, who responded to the study, consider drug-adulterated food supplements to be a public health threat. However, the competences of different official structures within the Member States concerning such products do not appear to be clearly defined. Regulators should thus think of stricter legislative solutions to increase the safety of public health.

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