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New Italian guidelines for food supplements

The Ministry of Health has published some updated guidelines on food supplements in its website.

In particular, maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals were reviewed along with the list of other substances with nutritional or physiological effect as well as the guideline on probiotics and prebiotics.

Changes include the maximum amount accepted for vitamin K, vitamin B6 and selenium, and the inclusion of D-mannose among the substances reported in the list of other admitted ingredients.

The updated guideline on probiotics and prebiotics reports the acceptable methods to be used for the identification of the bacterial strain and for the characterisation of yeasts for the identification of both their species and strain.

Some components that can be used as prebiotics were also added.

All food supplement formulators are therefore invited to follow the updated guidelines in order to have products complying with the Ministry indications.

Recommendations on the food supplements proposed as co-adjuvants in weight control or reduction regimes were also updated. For this kind of products great attention must be paid to the information reported in the label or in the advertising material as these are products intended for a group that is particularly vulnerable and sensitive to the indication related to body weight decrease.

Therefore, in the presentation of the product, the weight-reducing effect must always be associated with a healthy and balanced lifestyle including a reduction of energy intake and an increase of energy output, with special reference to the elimination of sedentary habits.

As per Regulation 1924/2006, the labelling and advertising of the product should report “a statement indicating the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle” along with information that the diet needs to be a low-calories one and nutritionally appropriate, and that it is undertaken under medical control if followed for prolonged periods.

No reference should be included on the use of food supplements in case of overt obesity, nor people can be induced to believe that they can obtain useful results by using products favouring bowel transit, diuresis or draining excessive body fluids.

As for composition, the guideline underlines that it is possible to propose a food supplement as co-adjuvants in low-calories diets only if health claims have been authorised for its ingredients supporting the action claimed in the label.

Written by: Federica Montozzi