Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA)


   HFMA is the major Trade Association for the specialist health product industry. It has 160 member companies who manufacture and market a wide range of products, in particular food supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, health foods, organic and functional foods, sports nutrition products, natural cosmetics and aromatherapy products.

  HFMA acts as the authoritative and responsible voice for the specialist health product industry in the public policy arena and as a focus for effective industry self-regulation within an appropriate regulatory framework. It also concerns itself with the setting of quality standards where no generally recognised standards exist.

  HFMA exists to build and maintain a successful and credible specialist health product industry within a regulatory environment where the consumer is free to choose from a wide range of safe, health promoting products.


  The relevance of our Memorandum to the Committee's inquiry relates to the range of food products manufactured by our members and their contribution to the quality of life: health foods, organic and functional foods and, in particular, food supplements.


  "Health promotion", "health maintenance", "responsible self-care" are important concepts in the achievement of a healthy population—a population with an extended period of active life, with less requirement for the treatment of ill-health and in consequence less pressure on the NHS and on Government health budgets.

  Diet plays a central role in the maintenance of health. A well-balanced diet should provide the nutrition required by a normal, healthy individual—but for many sectors of the population: children, adolescents, convalescents, athletes in training, women of child-bearing age, lactating and pregnant women and dieters, and in particular, the elderly, in practice it can be difficult to achieve an optimum diet.

  Of the food products produced by HFMA members, food supplements and functional foods in particular have an important role to play in providing nutritionally balanced formulae to achieve an optimum diet and hence to help maintain and safeguard the health of those "at-risk" sectors of the population. Particular areas where benefit has been proven include such diverse problems as obesity, neural tube defect and osteoporosis. The problem of osteoporosis, and the benefits offered by calcium supplementation, is particularly relevant to an ageing population, and is cited as a better-known example of just one of the many areas where supplementation can help to slow the degenerative process of both body and mind, thereby extending the quality of life.


  HFMA submits that, as part of the EQUAL Inquiry, the Committee should further consider the role to be played by specialist food products in extending the active period of people's lives and whether information, advice, and access to such products is adequate or should be enhanced.

29 December 1999

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