Thailand
New tax on food supplements
The Thai authorities are currently considering introducing an excise tax of 50% on food supplements. This tax rate is normally only applied to luxury goods.

In an attempt to counteract this, the Thai dietary supplement association, HFSA, has been gathering information via the IADSA network on food supplement tax rates in other areas of the world.

Armed with this data, HFSA now intends to present a review of the global situation to their authorities, with the aim of demonstrating to them that such a tax would not only be unjust, but would also be out of line with practice in other areas of the world.

Germany
Cinnamon supplements to be classed as medicines?
In a recent joint announcement, the Federal Institute for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices (BfArM) and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) gave their opinion that products marketed with a diabetes health claim should be classified as medicinal products.

This ruling has affected those cinnamon dietary supplements marketed in Germany which claim to reduce blood sugar and help control type-2 diabetes, and recent court cases have now classified such products as medicinal. However, cinnamon-containing food supplements without health claims can continue to be marketed.

Italy
New additions to the negative list of herbals
The Italian Ministry of Health has recently updated its negative list of herbals and their derivatives that are not permitted for use in food supplements with the addition of the following ingredients to the list: bacopa monnieri, boehravia diffusa, bupleurum falcatum, croton lechteri, cystoseira canariensis, desmodium adscendens, echium plantagineum, epimedium grandiflorum, eurycoma hermonis, ferula hermonis, ganoderma lucidum (reishi), glaucium corniculatum, hoodia gordoni, larrea mexicana (chaparral), euzea carthamoides (rhaponticum), mucuna pruriens, pelargonium sidoides, polygonatum sibiricum, salacia reticulata and sida cordifolia.

This list, although not law, is used officially by the Ministry as guidelines when evaluating notified food supplements containing herbals. The full list can be accessed through the web site of the Ministry at: www.ministerosalute.it/alimenti/resources/documenti/dietetica/elenco_di_piante_e_derivati_nov2006.pdf

Spain
European Commission takes case on medicinal plants before the ECJ
The European Commission has recently decided to take Spain before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for considering that is violating the EU principle of free movement of goods.

Medicinal plants lack of regulation in Spain since the government has not yet implemented the EU Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products. It is hoped that this action from the Commission will provide a solution boorsting the Spanish government to adopt regulation implementing the EU Directive.

Australia and New Zealand
Sterol-fortified foods approved
Australian Health Minister Christopher Pine recently announced that two new food standards have become law. The first allows Australians and New Zealanders to have access to a range of foods enriched with plant sterols. Previously only permitted in margarines, plant sterols can now be added to low fat milk, yoghurt and breakfast cereals.

The second standard permits manufacturers to manufacture water-based beverages with added vitamins and minerals in Australia. (Such products have been available in Australia for some time, but until now had to be manufactured in New Zealand as dietary supplements and then imported.)