Proposed FDA Food Safety Bill Modified to Protect Natural Supplements

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According to information reported by the Alliance for Natural Health, a Congressional bill designed to overhaul food safety regulations has been modified to exempt food supplements from regulations included in the bill. The FDA Food Modernization Act (S. 510), which has been a source of concern for supplement sellers and consumers, had included language which implied that U.S. trading partners would have to “harmonize” with Codex Alimentarius. The Codex is an international set of regulations that would affect access to many supplements, as it establishes uniform regulations that would supersede national laws governing foods and supplements. Already, a number of European countries and Canada have enacted regulations that greatly restrict the sale and purchase of herbal and nutritional supplements. Supplements under these provisions are addressed more like pharmaceutical drugs, which require extensive time and enormous expense to get government approval.

Fears that S. 510 would limit access in America to natural supplements led health freedom advocates to lobby Senators such as Orrin Hatch (R) and Tom Harkin (D) to modify the legislation. The new language inserted in the bill states that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the regulation of dietary supplements.” This language is not present in the already passed House of Representatives version of the FDA Food Modernization bill. The final draft of the bill may soon be voted on by the Senate, and although the current version appears to protect dietary supplements there is no guarantee that a final version which integrates the House and Senate versions of the bill would retain this protection.

The Senate bill S. 510 was initially sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D). Natural health advocates have been vocally concerned with this bill as well as a legislation introduced by Senator John McCain (R), which more directly challenged existing limits on the FDA’s regulations covering the natural supplement industry. Although the McCain bill appears to have been dropped from the current legislative agenda, there are concerns that the agenda of imposing tyrannical restrictions on supplements will be renewed or brought forward in more covert ways. Advocates of the new legislations claim that laws are needed to protect the public from product hazards. However, critics counter that sufficient safety regulations already exist and just need to be properly enforced.

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