The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has published the results of the dietary supplements audit carried out in 2017 by the Trade Inspection Authority. As a result of the audit, about 20% of examined batches were contested. The main reservations concerned incorrect labelling and the contents of vitamins and other ingredients being inconsistent with the information on the packaging.
Despite the fact that the audit results were slightly better as compared to the 2016 audit (when 29.9% of the examined batches were contested), the UOKiK has announced that due to the size of the confirmed irregularities, audits related to trade in dietary supplements will be continued.
Under applicable law, dietary supplements are foods, not medicinal products. In order to market them in Poland, it is sufficient to notify the Chief Sanitary Inspector (GIS) about such intention. At the same time the law does not introduce specific rules of their advertising. During the last 10 years, nearly 30,000 products have been entered as dietary supplements in the register maintained by the GIS.
The Trade Inspection Authority’s audit is not the only example of an official examination of the dietary supplements market. The President of UOKiK has recently imposed a fine of PLN 26 (approx. EUR 6 million) million on a pharmaceutical company for misleading advertisements of a supplement. These advertisements suggested that the product had some medicinal properties. During the proceedings, the President of UOKiK examined consumer perception of the contested ads. The analyses confirmed that the message indeed misled consumers.
Over the past year, two other decisions were issued in connection with misleading advertisements of supplements. However, manufacturers avoided fines because they had undertaken to remove the consequences of unfair advertising.
The authorities’ increased efforts are certainly related to the report published in 2017 by the Supreme Audit Office on the admission of dietary supplements to trading. The Supreme Audit Office's audit indicated that in Poland the level of dietary supplement safety was insufficient. According to the Supreme Audit Office, the above is predominantly related to legislative solutions that are inadequate from the perspective of ensuring safety of dietary supplements, especially with regard to their marketing for the first time and in the field of their advertising.
The Ministry of Health and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate have been preparing a number of amendments in legal regulations with regard to the safety, composition, presentation and advertising of dietary supplements. The proposed amendment aims at bringing to an end any practices that mislead consumers.
The planned changes are still being discussed. At present, the final wording of and the date on which the new regulations will come into force are unknown.