The HFMA has announced the launch of a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Micronutrients and Health.
The news came as the organisation met with Parliamentarians to discuss ways to help the nation to be healthier during its annual Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons.
The event, ‘Helping a nation to be healthier: the next 50 years’, was described as a great success, where important public health issues were discussed with the Parliamentarians present.
Hosted by Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East, the reception gave Parliamentarians the opportunity to learn more about key public health issues affecting the UK population, and the potential role of the natural health industry in not just helping the nation to be healthier, but along the way reducing cost burden on the nation’s healthcare system.
Dr Marilyn Glenville and the HFMA’s chair Robert Taylor, who is also Vice President at Vitabiotics, both spoke about the HFMA’s recent expert roundtable, where a group of 10 respected experts in human nutrition and public health, led by Professor Peter Aggett, discussed the future of micronutrient initiatives in the UK.
During his speech, Taylor said: “I cannot stress enough how proud I am to be chairing this association in this, our 50th year. I have watched with pride how far we have already come in helping our nation to be healthier, lobbying MPs, working with key stakeholders and fighting inappropriate legislation which not only affects our industry, but also restricts consumer choice.
“I’m delighted to announce today that we will be supporting the formation of a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), chaired by Rosie Cooper MP, to discuss the key role of micronutrients for future health, bringing this vital area to the forefront of discussions in Westminster. Whilst there are currently a number of health-related APPGs in Westminster, there are none that specifically focus on micronutrients and the role of food supplements, so this new group will be the first of its kind.”
Harris added: “We mustn’t underestimate the importance these products have in helping a nation to be healthier. In fact, recent research by the HFMA tells us that 55 per cent of the population now take food supplements for a range of reasons, 60 per cent of them on a daily basis. That’s 40,000 people in every single UK Parliamentary constituency. I myself am a huge advocate.”
During her address, Dr Glenville said: “At the HFMA roundtable in April, it was sobering that we were still discussing the impact of rickets in 2015, something which can so easily be prevented with responsible messaging and education on supplementation.
“Hugely important too are discussions around folic acid supplementation for women of childbearing age, and whilst many think that fortification is the answer, I do not believe that this will help pregnant women get the levels that they need to avoid neural tube defects, and may put them in danger of believing a few slices of bread ensure their levels are sufficient. I don’t believe that is the case. The most important task for us now is to ensure that education and messaging around micronutrient recommendations is clear, and the HFMA is playing a key role in helping to achieve this goal.”
In other HFMA news, it’s been announced that, following intervention from the organisation, unlicensed Echinacea and Devil’s Claw products have been successfully rooted out.
Around 40 unlicensed Echinacea products and 70 unlicensed Devil’s Claw products, from non-EU countries that were making non-authorised health claims, have been removed from the Amazon.co.uk website, following collaboration with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Following discussions with the MHRA in July, the HFMA raised concerns over issues relating to some selling activities of major online retailers, citing Echinacea and Devil’s Claw in particular, and the marketing of health products that make illegal medicinal claims or are inappropriately labelled for the UK market.
Graham Keen, Executive Director at the HFMA, said: “This is a very positive outcome, which takes us another step towards ensuring safe and regulated natural health products for UK consumers, and we thank the MHRA for decisive response to this problem. It is also a very real and detrimental commercial issue for our members who invest heavily in producing products that meet all regulatory requirements. We will remain vigilant and continue to protect the interest of responsible retailers, who are producing high-quality products. This is an issue which remains a key priority for us, and we will continue to work with the MHRA by providing further examples of other products inappropriately labelled for the UK market.”