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May 2, 2005  
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AHPA Releases Statement on Codex Alimentarius and Dietary Supplements

By Editorial Staff

The American Herbal Products Association, in response to queries from companies that sell herbal products and the consumers who use them, has issued a statement concerning the Codex Alimentarius Commission and dietary supplements.

The Codex was created in 1963, and is a joint operation of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and the World Health Organization. To date, the Commission has adopted more than 250 standards related to fresh fruits and vegetables, processed foods and food additives. Most recently, the Codex announced plans to adopt a new set of guidelines on vitamins and dietary supplements, which would go into effect in July, 2005.

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Facts About Codex and Dietary Supplements

Numerous internet-based articles in recent months have broadcast concern about the potential impact of the Codex Alimentarius Commission on the legal status of dietary supplements in the United States. Many companies that sell herbal products have contacted AHPA in the past several weeks with questions about these articles, and numerous consumers of herbal products have also requested clarification of the impact that Codex will have on their access to dietary supplements that contain vitamins, minerals and herbs.

AHPA has therefore prepared a document to address these inquiries, both for our members who market dietary supplements and for their health-conscious customers who use them. The document, "Codex Alimentarius and Dietary Supplements," is posted on the AHPA Web site at It provides a short background on Codex as well as succinct discussions of the relationship between Codex and the World Trade Organization and of the pending adoption by Codex of guidelines on vitamin and mineral food supplements (VMS Guidelines). The effect of Codex on both international and domestic trade is also addressed and a short commentary on another international regulation, the EU Directive on Food Supplements, is also included.

AHPA's Codex document also provides a table of "Quick Facts on Codex." These include:

  • The effect of the Codex VMS Guidelines is that the U.S. (and all countries in Codex) will be required to allow the import of all vitamin and mineral supplements that conform to the new guidelines.
  • Codex can affect a country's domestic laws by forcing them to be relaxed, but only if those laws are more restrictive than a Codex standard or guideline.
  • The Codex vitamin and mineral guidelines will not have a direct or immediate effect on U.S. domestic law since U.S. law is less restrictive than these Codex guidelines.

When Codex sets maximum levels on vitamins and minerals, it will do so based on science.

The rights of American consumers are protected by DSHEA (The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act) - and only the U.S. Congress can amend U.S. laws.


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