What is Nutrivigilance?
The consumption habits, market offer and distribution channels for food supplements, novel foods, fortified foods and beverages, and foodstuffs for people with specific needs are constantly changing. Yet these products, often perceived by consumers as harmless, can under certain conditions expose them to risks. In order to identify the possible adverse effects of these foods and to reinforce consumer safety, ANSES has been tasked since 2010 with a nutritional vigilance mission. Since the Nutrivigilance scheme was set up, ANSES has issued recommendations on nine different products. So-called energy drinks, food supplements containing alcoholic extracts of yam, red yeast rice and p-synephrine, an instant almond-based beverage for 12-month-old infants, etc., have all been the subject of opinions by the Agency, and three other types of food supplements are also currently under examination. Since each opinion launched is based on the declarations of adverse effects received by ANSES, healthcare professionals are an essential link in making the Nutrivigilance scheme work.
Nutrivigilance, a scheme devoted to consumer safety
The consumption and availability of food supplements as well as of certain special food items such as energy drinks, are in constant progression. Meanwhile, distribution channels are diversifying, especially with regard to the Internet. However, these new products, often perceived by consumers as without danger, can under certain conditions expose them to risks. Because of this, ANSES has been tasked since 2010 with a nutrivigilance mission whose objective is to ...
Published on 07/10/2014 Read more
Food supplements, fortified foods and beverages - these products can cause adverse effects when consumed. To identify them and better protect consumer health, ANSES has set up a vigilance scheme for food known as nutrivigilance.
Red yeast rice is a red mould grown on rice which is used in many food supplements claiming to "maintain a normal level of cholesterol". ANSES has received 25 reports of adverse reactions (mostly muscle and liver damage) likely to be linked to consumption of food supplements containing red yeast rice. The Agency considers that use of this kind of food supplement containing monacolins may expose consumers to a health risk – especially individuals who are particularly susceptible due to genetic predispositions, pathologies, ongoing treatments, etc. ANSES therefore recommends seeking medical advice before taking these products. It emphasises that these supplements must not be used by patients taking statin-based medications, nor by those who had to stop taking statin-based medications due to adverse reactions (statin-intolerant patients). Susceptible individuals (pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and adolescents, people over the age of 70 or those suffering from certain pathologies, people who consume large amounts of grapefruit, etc.) should also avoid taking these supplements.
P-synephrine, a substance found in the skin of bitter oranges, is used as an ingredient in numerous so-called "weight-loss" food supplements. Since the creation of its nutrivigilance system, ANSES has received 18 reports of adverse effects potentially associated with the consumption of food supplements containing p-synephrine. Based on its assessment, the Agency considers that intake levels of p-synephrine through food supplements must remain below below 20 mg/day. It also recommends not taking p-synephrine-based weight-loss supplements along with caffeine, and strongly discourages taking such products during physical exercise, as well as their use by sensitive groups, including individuals following medical treatments, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and adolescents.
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