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PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment

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Towards a risk assessment system for natural supplements

A research consortium in the EU has developed tools and methods to make botanical food supplements safer and easier to use. This will promote the use of natural substances in food supplements across Europe.

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Plant food supplements (PFSs) are widely accepted by European consumers for their capacity to deliver significant health benefits. However, concerns about safety, quality and efficacy of these products remain, and limitations in risk and benefit assessments need to be addressed. The EU-funded PLANTLIBRA (Plant food supplements: Levels of intake, benefit and risk assessment) initiative promoted the usage and safety of botanical preparations by increasing the evidence available for health benefit and risk assessment. As a first step, partners generated the ePlantLIBRA database with quality-assessed data on the composition and biological effects of biologically active compounds present in PFSs. Through a consumer survey, researchers investigated PFS consumption patterns, recommendations and determinants of usage in six European countries. Five areas where PFSs can be beneficial have been reviewed, namely inflammation, digestive health, menopausal symptoms, post-menopausal bone health and cardiovascular disease. Different botanicals have been identified with promising effects in these different categories. Researchers also collected data on potential risks of different compounds, and created a publicly available tool called Opasnet for risk/benefit assessment. Scientists also developed a number of new analytical methods for quality control in the PFS sector. By focusing on good analytical practices and adverse effects, this project's work will help identify and quantify high-risk compounds while promoting the PFS sector generally.


Risk assessment, botanical, plant food supplements, health, PLANTLIBRA, biologically active compounds

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