CJEU upholds principle of free movement of goods for food supplements

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU“) has issued a ruling on the interpretation of Directive 2002/46/EC on food supplements, finding that a French law prohibiting the sale of food supplements from other EU Member States containing vitamins and minerals above French national limits is contrary to EU law.

The CJEU held that while individual Member States can set their own maximum vitamin and mineral levels for food supplements, the absence of a procedure for evaluating and authorising food supplements lawfully marketed in other Member States that exceed those national limits means that the French law contravenes the EU principles of free movement of goods and mutual recognition.

The CJEU also confirmed that where an individual Member States sets its own national maximum vitamin and mineral levels for food supplements, those levels must be set on a case-by-case basis following a comprehensive risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, including international and not only national data.

The ruling is significant for food supplement companies in confirming that even where national limits are allowed to be set, these must be based on robust scientific evidence and cannot be used to automatically prevent products sold legally elsewhere in the EU from being sold in that national market. In the longer term, the ruling also highlights the need for harmonised EU maximum vitamin and mineral levels to be developed.

Read the full judgment here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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