An “artificial contract” between food and medicine that has formed the basis of much European Union (EU) regulation of natural health products should be abandoned, says the founder of Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH-International).
In a panel discussion at the recent Natural & Organic Products Europe event in London, Dr Robert Verkerk (pictured) commented: “One of the biggest problems we have is the intersection of food and medicine law. The reason we have a roadblock, with products being taken off the market, is because medicinal law imposes itself far too often on food law.
“ … an artificial contract between food and medicine has formed the basis of much EU regulation on natural health products. We’ve now got a very different scientific environment to the one that this regulation grew up in. We now know that food is medicine, we know that exercise is medicine and therefore we need to re-frame the way that foods can be used for therapeutic benefit, and I think that will yield a fundamental change. I believe we need to review the whole of medicinal law in relation to the use of therapeutic foods. And thatt could create a possibility of a third route, or a third category, such as we’ve seen in Canada.”
“We now know that food is medicine, we know that exercise is medicine and therefore we need to re-frame the way that foods can be used for therapeutic benefit”
Verkerk said he would like to see regulation seen through “ a different kind of lens that applies scientific substantiation, but that makes sense in the real world.” Referring to prospects for the UK natural health sector, he complained that the UK authorities had “typically been bean counters, and firm, rigid interpreters of EU law”. What is needed, he argued, is “a diverse, vibrant natural products community that is rightfully seen as an important contributor to the health of the nation”. Instead, he said, “it’s too often seen as an industry peddling supplements that haven’t been validated. So we need to reframe the vision of this sector and re-present it as a really important contributor to the nation’s health”.