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.
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France is seeing increasing consumption of food supplements, which are concentrates of nutrients, plants or other substances. Whether they are intended for slimming, relieving stress, boosting energy, or for athletes, these products are often perceived as harmless but can in some cases expose consumers to health risks. Who uses them? Are they necessary for certain populations? How can we limit the health risks?
Food supplements, novel foods, fortified foods or so-called energy drinks: these products can cause adverse effects when consumed. To identify them promptly and better protect consumer health, ANSES 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.
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