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Food Inspection Authority recommends caution when purchasing food supplements


Food supplements are more and more popular. However, there are many widespread fables among consumers relating to their safety and effectiveness. Consumers often confuse them with medicaments. Some producers even support this false belief and on the packaging or in commercials, they promise even wonder results – for example treat of asthma or psoriasis, decrease of cardiac diseases risk, prevention of cancer, elimination of side effects of chemotherapy or even reduction of growth of tumours. Nevertheless, food supplements differ from other foodstuffs only in high content of vitamins, mineral substances or other substances with nutritional or physiological effect. The aim of their consumption is to supplement routine diet to a level positively affecting the health condition of the consumer. Some food supplements thus may have positive effects; however, they cannot solve any health problems entirely. Food supplements do not cure.

The difference between medicaments and food supplemenst is also in conditions which they have to fulfill before they are released in the market. While medicaments must undergo time-consuming and expensive clinical explorations, during which indications, contraindications, quality, and dosage for single age groups of inhabitants are assessed before approving by the State Institute for Drug Control, food supplements are just notified by the Ministry of Health. If they contain vitamins and mineral substances authorized by relevant Decree (Decree No. 446/2004 Coll., laying down the requirements for food supplements and for enriching food with diet supplements), sending the Czech text of the product label to the Ministry of Health, before the product is released in the market, is sufficient. If they contain other substances as well, the Ministry requires an expert opinion made by the National Health Institute. However, this Institute assesses only safety of components of the supplement, not their effectiveness. And either in this case, does it not examine whether the product contains any other substances than indicated or whether they are in the amount specified on the packaging.

The Inspection Authority therefore recommends consumers caution when purchasing food supplements. It is not good to believe all what products promise. If consumers want to buy such a product, than it is definitely safer to do so in regular shops than through the Internet or within a promotional event. The purchaser should study the label properly before purchasing and in case of doubts he/she should consult with a doctor or a nutrition specialist. Consumers should also bear in mind that food supplements cannot substitute the health life style.

From the reasons mentioned above, the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority pays high attention to food supplements. In the previous year, CAFIA carried out several controls which were thematically focused rihgt on food supplements. The last one, which terminated at the end of December, revealed, among others, that a considerable amount of supplements contained a lower content of effective substances than specified on the packaging or they were not contained at all. Laboratory analyses confirmed this at 32% of samples taken.

Since the New Year, CAFIA has banned the sale of other six food supplements. A food supplement for sportsmen containing two anabolic steroids, of which one was present in a huge amount, was among them. Both anabolic steroids are also indicated on the List of banned substances and doping methods for 2008. As it is an extremely unsafe product, the Inspection Authority has established a three-member commission which will supervise the destruction of the whole batch right in the incinerator plant.

For more relevant details see Annex of this press release.

Author: Mgr. Martina Šmídtová - CAFIA spokesperson, phone : +420-542426633  


  • doc document.doc [file size: 47,0 KB, extension: doc] Table Supplements