The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) has asked the European Commission for a derogation for sports nutrition products from the minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals which could negatively impact on their consumers.

The legislation, Article 6(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006, comes about as a result of the repeal of the PARNUTS framework directive earlier this year, and sets a minimum level of vitamins and minerals that must be found in all sports foods. ESSNA has however highlighted that vitamins and minerals are sometimes added at lower levels than that ‘significant amount’ in sports foods and drinks to ensure that the composition of the product best addresses the acute requirements of the body when carrying out a particular sports activity.

Dr Adam Carey, Chair of ESSNA said:

“While we strongly welcome the new legislative framework for sports nutrition products, we are concerned by some of the unintended consequences that the repeal of the PARNUTS framework directive entails, specifically the application of minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals to sports nutrition products.

“This simply won’t work for the sports nutrition industry. Consumption patterns in our sector are greatly varied depending on type, frequency and intensity of exercise. In particular many athletes engaged in intensive exercise, like marathons or triathlons, will use multiple products including gels, powder drinks and electrolyte drinks in a course of a single day to meet their specific needs. While a single portion today may often not meet the ‘significant amount’ level, the intake over the day or course of activity will almost certainly reach the minimum levels. A marathon runner, for example, is likely to take between three to five litres of electrolyte fluids, including gels, during a run.

“Costs will also rise parallel to the increase in minerals and vitamins, which means customers will be paying extra for levels of nutrients that exceed what they need based on the frequency of consumption. Therefore, it is crucial that we have some flexibility here to ensure that there is no unnecessary financial increase to our target population, and to eliminate any risk of overconsumption.”

ESSNA Vice-Chair Mark Gilbert will also be discussing this issue and its impact on the industry as part of his talk on the changes in regulation of the sports nutrition sector at the upcoming Food Matters Live event, taking place from 22-24 November at the London ExCeL Centre.

ESSNA will also have a presence in the form a Members Pavilion at the exhibition, which will showcase a number of ESSNA members’ stands. Officers and members of the ESSNA secretariat will also be available throughout the duration of the event to provide information and answer any additional questions that arise from Mark’s presentation. This follows on from another recent collaboration with Food Matters Live, in which ESSNA hosted an industry briefing workshop which discussed the rapid changes in the sector, presentations from which can be downloaded here.

ESSNA is the voice of the sports nutrition industry and is in dialogue with regulators and policy makers, campaigning in favour of proportionate EU legislation that does not adversely affect the industry. ESSNA also acts to unofficially ‘police’ the industry by monitoring and reporting irresponsible companies that flout EU law and may put consumers at potential risk from dangerous products.