Fact Check

Codex Alimentarius

Are American consumers at risk of losing their right to purchase and use vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements?

Published Feb 15, 2005


Claim:   The 'Codex Alimentarius' will eliminate U.S. consumers' rights to purchase and use vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements.


FALSE: In June 2005 the U.S. was forced to accept Codex Alimentarius regulation of vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements.
OUTDATED: Bills proposing the regulation of dietary supplements are currently before Congress.
FALSE: In June 2010, President Obama signed Codex Alimentarius regulations into law by Executive Order.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, 2005]

Your right to choose your vitamin, mineral and other supplements may end in June of this year (2005). After that U.S. supplements will be defined and controlled by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The CODEX ALIMENTARIUS (Food Code) is setting the supplement standards for all countries in the WTO. They will be enforced by the WTO and will over ride U.S. laws. The U.S. President and Congress agreed to this take-over when the WTO Treaty was signed. Violations are punished by WTO trade sanctions.

CODEX drastically restricts vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements. CODEX met secretly in November, 2004 and finalized "Step 8 (the final stage)" to begin implementation in June, 2005.

The CODE includes:
(1) No supplement can be sold for preventive or therapeutic use.
(2) Any potency higher than RDA (minimal strength) is a "drug" requiring a prescription and must be produced by drug companies. Over 5000 safe items now in health stores will be banned, terminating health stores as we now know them.
(3) CODEX regulations become binding internationally.
(4) New supplements are banned unless given very expensive CODEX testing and approval.

CODEX now applies to Norway and Germany, among others, where zinc tablets rose from $4 per bottle to $52. Echinacea (an ancient immune-enhancement herb) rose from $14 to $153 (both examples are now allowed by prescription only). They are now "drugs". Vitamin C above 200 mg, niacin above 32 mg, vitamin B6 above 4 mg — all are banned over-the-counter as drugs. No amino acids (arginine, lysine, carnitine, etc. = essential amino acids!), essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6, 9, etc.), or other essential supplements such as DMEA, DHEA, CoQ10, MSM, beta-carotene, etc. are allowed.

The CODEX rules are not based on real science. They are made by a few people meeting in secret (see web sites below), not necessarily scientists. In 1993 the FDA and drug corporations tried to put all supplements under restriction and prescription. But over 4 million Americans told Congress and the President to protect their freedom of choice on health supplements. The DSHEA Law was passed in 1994, which does so. But this will be over ruled by CODEX and the World Trade Organization.

Virtually nothing about it has been in the media. What the drug corporations have failed to do through Congress they have gotten by sneak attack through CODEX with the help of a silent media. What can be done at this late hour?

(1) Spread the word as much as possible. Inform yourselves fully at https://www.ahha.org, www.iahf.com and www.alliance-natural-health.org.
(2) Oppose bills S. 722 and H.R. 3377. These support the CODEX restrictions with U.S. laws, changing the DSHEA law.
(3) Support H.R. 1146 which would restore the sovereignty of the U.S. Constitution over CODEX, etc.
(4) Express your wishes to the President, Senators and Representatives (They got us into this!) ASAP.
(5) Contact multi-level health marketing groups that can get their members to inform the government.
(6) Send donations, however small, to the British Alliance for Natural Health (see web site above). It has succeeded in challenging the CODEX directives in World Court later this month or next. They need help
financially, having carried the fight effectively for everyone. CODEX and the FDA wish to protect us by controlling supplements in the same way they do prescription drugs.

A study of the latter by three medical scientists was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, April 15, 1998 — Vol. 279, No.
p. 1200 "Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR's) was found to be
extremely high." Covering 30 years (1966 to 1996) it was found that in the U.S. an average of 106,000 hospitalized patients per year (290 per day) die from ADR's and 2,200,000 need more hospitalization for recovery.

These were FDA approved drugs, properly administered by competent professionals in hospitals — none were considered malpractice. This is the number four cause of death in the U.S. When combined, these account for 7% of all hospitalized patients. This is equivalent to a 9-11 attack every ten days.

There are very few fatalities from supplements or the news would be on every front page. There is no need for more FDA control of supplements than is already in place, which is substantial. Instead of drastically restricting supplements, why doesn't the FDA better control and restrict the extremely dangerous pharmaceutical drugs which are now killing us at the rate of a major airline crash per day?

Wallace G. Heath, Ph.D.
1145 Marine Drive Bellingham, WA 98225


Origins:   This e-mailed alert began circulating on the Internet in January 2005. Although the call to arms is worded in such a way as to convince those who receive that their right to purchase vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements in the U.S. is about to be lost to them unless they act decisively in defense of it, it is outdated and the facts of what is being considered by American lawmakers and why are radically dissimilar from the red cape being waved.


First of all, this is another case of an issue that is now largely moot due to outdated information. Back in 2003, two versions of a bill that proposed the regulation of dietary supplements (S. 722, the "Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2003," and H.R. 3377, the "Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act") were introduced to Congress. Neither of these bills was ever voted upon, much less passed. They both expired with the end of the 108th Congress in 2004 and have not been reintroduced to the currently sitting 109th Congress.

Moreover, neither of these items of potential legislation was forced on the U.S. by an outside regulatory body, nor did they say anything about restricting the American public's access to vitamins and minerals. Their sole target was dietary supplements, a class of products that has been unregulated since 1994, when Congress passed legislation that exempted them from federal regulation. Claims that your right to take vitamins and minerals is about to be impaired or that you will require doctors' prescriptions to obtain such products should be regarded as attempts at rabble-rousing, deliberate moves to spur you into action against one thing by convincing you that something very different and far closer to your heart is at stake.

Vitamins and minerals are not under the gun. Dietary supplements are. And no outside regulatory body is behind this move: the proposed legislation is the work of American lawmakers looking to safeguard the public from the unscrupulous and the hazardous. If you take nothing else from this article, take the preceding three sentences.

Despite their presence on store shelves, not all dietary supplements are safe for consumers to use, let alone are beneficial to their health. Products can be 100% natural yet deliver a deadly payload, as have some in the past. Lacking regulation of such ingestibles, there is no protection afforded consumers, and

authoritative-looking labels are no guarantee that what is being vended in those bottles they envelop is not harmful. Under current law, dangerous supplements get onto the market and stay there, with serious physical harm resulting among those who use them, as was the case with ephedra, which caused strokes, heart attacks, and upwards of 150 deaths before the Food and Drug Administration was finally able to get it out of the stores.

In 2004, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, almost one in five Americans (19%) reported using a supplement, which means the pool of folks at risk is great. Yet the incentives are there for the dietary supplement industry to keep on doing what it has been doing: in 2002, it reported $18.7 billion in sales. With so much profit at stake, there is little desire on the part of manufacturers to police themselves or their products all that carefully.

It's not just about inherently dangerous substances being sold to the unwary as the latest miracle answer for what ails them — even when dietary supplements contain nothing obviously harmful, the current lack of regulation results in improperly manufactured or contaminated products reaching the public. Quality control is missing. Absent regulation, consumers have little reason to trust they are getting the dosage they believe they are taking. ConsumerLab.com, an independent laboratory that tests dietary supplements, found that some name-brand products contain only small quantities of the active ingredient on their label. "Some have none, some have 80 percent, some have 20 percent," Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of the lab, told ABC News. Also, some contaminated supplements reach the market and thus fall into the hands of unknowing consumers. In December 2004, pesticide was found in ginseng being vended on the East Coast, and heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic were discovered in herbal supplements.

Two bills put before Congress in 2003 looked to regulate dietary nostrums by imposing quality and safety standards on them, and giving the FDA the ability to take them off the market before a great number of folks have been harmed by them. In March 2003, Senator Richard Durbin introduced bill S. 722, the "Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2003" in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of this legislation was to "protect consumers from dangerous dietary supplements such as ephedra and other stimulants by requiring manufacturers to submit proof that their product is safe prior to bringing it to market." The bill would require manufacturers of the most dangerous types of dietary supplements (stimulants) to submit proof of their products' safety prior to bringing them to market. The bill also expands the FDA's authority to require from any dietary supplement maker proof of its product's safety if that agency has received information suggesting the product is causing death or other serious adverse health effects. It would also require manufacturers to report serious adverse health events (e.g.; heart attack, seizure, stroke, death), to the FDA no later than 15 calendar days after they learn of them. The bill also looks to close a loophole in current law that, according to Senator Durbin, "has been exploited by many dietary supplement manufacturers, allowing anabolic steroids to be sold widely as dietary supplements" by clarifying that anabolic steroids are not dietary supplements and are subject to regulation that restricts their availability under the Controlled Substances Act.

In October 2003, Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Dingell (DMI) introduced bill H.R. 3377, the "Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would increase the FDA's authority over dietary supplements, enabling that agency to monitor the health risks of dietary supplements and take appropriate action if problems develop. The proposed law was not intended to have any impact on the regulation of vitamins and minerals, which are specifically excluded from the bill. In addition, for dietary supplements that contain herbs, amino acids, and other botanicals, the bill will ensure that FDA has basic information about who makes them and the products' ingredients. It would also require dietary supplement manufacturers to provide FDA with information about all adverse events, so that the agency could spot warning signs and investigate if necessary. It further allows the FDA to prohibit sales to minors of supplements that may cause significant harm to children. Finally, it allows the FDA to demand safety information from a manufacturer if the FDA has evidence that a particular supplement may pose serious risks.

Getting back to the e-mail's claim that a foreign regulatory body is behind all this, we address the claim that:

Your right to choose your vitamin, mineral and other supplements may end in June of this year (2005). After that U.S. supplements will be defined and controlled by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1962 by two United Nations organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. It is the body of government representatives and non-governmental organizations charged by the United Nations with establishing a reference for international guidelines on food law. However, it has no power to force its will on any nation. Codex standards are voluntary; no country is obligated to adopt them.

In November 2004, the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) reached agreement on the definitions and regulatory guidelines for the worldwide use of vitamins and minerals in food supplements and presented its "Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements" to the Codex annual meeting in Rome in July 2005. The Codex guidelines form a reference point that may be used in cases of international trade disputes in the area of food supplements. That, in a nutshell, is the extent of its teeth.

In the latter half of 2010, erroneous claims began to circulate claiming that President Obama had signed Codex Alimentarius regulations into law via Executive Order. In fact, the referenced order simply — in accordance with recently passed health care reform legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) — established the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council within the Department of Health and Human Services in order to provide federal coordination and leadership of "prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices, the public health system, and integrative health care in the U.S." The council so established has no specific power or mandate to regulate the sales of vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements.

Barbara "vitaminimized" Mikkelson

Additional information:

    Codex   Codex Alimentarius   (World Health Organization)

Last updated:   15 August 2010


    Shepherd, Rose.   "Nil By Mouth."

    The Observer.   29 February 2004   (Observer Magazine; p. 26).

    Sumner Burstyn, Barbara.   "Conventional Medicine Far Riskier Than Supplements."

    The New Zealand Herald.   16 July 2003.

    Community Pharmacy.   "Ruled Maximum Levels for Vitamins and Minerals."

    12 August 2004.   (p. 5).

    Europe Agri.   "International Agreement Reached on Guidelines for Vitamins and Minerals."

    16 November 2004.

    Lincoln Journal Star.   "Regulation Needed for Supplements."

    31 January 2005.   (p. B4).

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.   "Judge Allows FDA Ban of Dietary Supplement."

    13 April 2004.   (p. A6).

    Nutraceuticals World.   "Reps. Davis, Waxman & Dingell Introduce Legislation."

    December 2003.   Vol. 6, No. 12, p. 8.

    Nutraceuticals World.   "Senator Durbin Introduces Bill to Amend DSHEA."

    May 2003.   Vol. 6, No. 5, p. 8.

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