Consumers for Health Choice

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Consumers for Health Choice (CHC), set up in 1996 claims to be "an independent (non-profit making) consumer organisation with 11,000 members in the UK, and over 267,000 supporters on its database." [1] The members of CHC are "consumer organisations and practitioner organisations, companies and individuals"[2] The CHC has become one of the leading consumer groups working to protect the rights of the public across the European Union on natural health issues. [3]


CHC, according to Sue Croft, has been set up "to monitor possible adverse legislation coming from Brussels that might affect the rights of consumers to take responsibility for their own health without the use of pharmaceutical drugs".[4]

In 2005 the CHC played a prominent role in lobbying against the EU Food Supplements Directive on banning certain food supplements. Previosly most herbal remedies were available in Britain under Section 12 of the 1968 Medicines Act as "medicines exempt from licensing". The directive required that manufacturers provide evidence that their products are safe before they are given a licence. [5]. One of the arguments used to oppose the Directive is that consumers would be denied the freedom of choice and that their health can be damaged; therefore CHC has been established to defend consumers' right to buy food supplements. Food supplement retailers and manufacturers run the CHC.

The CHC website provides a sample of the letter to be send to MPs or MEPs in support of their campaign.[6]

The campaign to lobby against the Directive was supported by the Conservative Party. It's aim was to "put pressure on the Government to step in and get the right deal in Brussels". The party's website mentions CHC as a partner in "saving our supplements". [7]

In 2006, the CHC described itself on its website as 'an extraordinarily successful lobbying and campaigning group on natural health matters, capable of punching way above our weight on whatever issues we tackle.'[8]

Political Advice

The Whitehouse Consultancy provides 'political advice' for the CHC. The consultancy's main strategy is:

  • to maintain 'an intensive lobbying campaign within the United Kingdom political environment to ensure that the UK government at all times is fully aware of the depth of concern about disproportionate regulatory developments.'
  • to brief and lobby all UK Members of the European Parliament, and members from all Member States who serve upon the key Environment Committee of that Parliament.
  • to establish an ongoing dialogue with officials of key government agencies, including the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • to establish a 'high media profile'
  • to recruit and deploy 'high profile celebrity supporters'
  • maintain a 'constant barrage of parliamentary questions, early day motions, debates and other political activity, has kept pressure on the UK government to actively negotiate for a more proportionate approach in Europe.'[9]

Board of Directors

  • Michael J Peet, Chairman - One of the founding directors, he has vast experience within the health industry, namely as vice-president of sales, marketing and regulatory affairs and co-founder of Healthnotes Inc., as well as previous managing director for Health & Diet.
  • Sue Croft, Director - With over 35 years experience in the natural health care industry, Croft was elected onto the CHC board in 1996 to help oversee fund raising, media and consumer communications.
  • James McEuen, Director - He has been a long-time supporter of CHC and is said to be dedicated to the free choice of vitamins and supplements for practitioners and consumers alike. He is also the chief executive of NutraHealth Plc
  • Steve Ryan, Director - a long standing supporter of Consumers for Health Choice, he brings a different dimension to the board with his main interests lying in bee health.
  • Melvyn Stevens, Director - Elected onto the CHC Board in December 2004.
  • Gareth Zeal, Director - With over 24 years experience having advised both patients and customers on the benefits of nutrition and natural medicine, Zeal is described as one of UK’s leading experts in the field of nutrition and naturopathy.


According to Sue Croft, most CHC members are 'members of the public...These are people who use higher range supplements on a regular basis and they have used them for many years.' Most members join after using 'helplines' set up by the CHC to advise people on particular vitamins, for example, the B6 campaign. [10]


Through CHC advisors, the group has managed to set up offices in Europe, in the Netherlands, in Belgium and Ireland:

'The aim was to persuade Europe because we [CHC] always knew there would be legislation on supplements, and we wanted that legislation to be positive, based on upper, safe levels and not on nutritional need.' [11]


The consumer members of the CHC send the organisation 'very small' donations 'from time to time'. When there is a need for the organisation to lauch a consumer campaign, CHC goes to the 'market place' and seeks help from the 'health food industry, from the manufacturers and retailers. Some of them have been supportive and have given us [CHC] funds. We have also received funds from Belgium and from America.'[12]


British Health Foods Manufacturers Association | Alliance For Natural Health | Bristol Cancer Help Centre | British Society for Nutritional Medicine | Hyperactive Children's Support Group | Institute for Complementary Medicine | Foresight | Mayday - the National Society for Research into Allergies.

According to CHC's Sue Croft:

'All these people [affiliations] are supportive of CHC and if you put their membership together we are actually representing people, here in Britain and in Europe, in excess of 20 million. '

These organisations offer 'support' and 'back' the group's work. 'Sometimes they attend our meetings and they have a great input into what we do. We seek their advice on a regular basis.'

'Save our Supplements'

In January 2010, CHC chairman Michael J Peet encouraged consumers and 'small and medium-sized businesses in the specialist sector' in Malta to join the group's campaign by writing to the country's European Commissioner Designate, John Dalli 'to urge him to protect consumer choice in the setting of maximum permitted levels under the provisions of this [The Food Supplements Directive] legislation.' In an article written in the Times of Malta, Peet informed readers that Dalli's position would make him responsible for the health portfolio (DG SANCO) within the European Commission creating 'an excellent opportunity for him to influence the current debate on the availability of safe and popular higher potency vitamin and mineral supplements which are under threat from burdensome European legislation.'[13] According to Peet:

'Recent warnings from the Commission are that consumers around Europe can expect to be denied access to many safe and popular higher potency supplements which they currently choose in order to achieve and maintain optimum health.'
'We have supporters in all 27 European member states, including Malta, and are calling upon Commissioner Dalli to ensure that the Commission abandons plans for a disproportionately restrictive interpretation of this legislation and instead to propose figures which do not unnecessarily restrict access to safe and popular products around Europe.'
'The difficulty which the Commission faces is that Article 5 of the Directive requires maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements to be set "taking into account" a number of factors, but it does not indicate what "taking into account" actually means. Thus the Article is open to flexible interpretation.'
'The Commission acknowledges that it is under pressure from some member states, including France and Germany, to propose restrictive levels, whereas other member states such as the United Kingdom are pressing for a more liberal and proportionate interpretation which does not deny consumer choice or lead to the closure of the manufacturers and retailers of specialist products.'[14]

The articles describes the organisation as follows:

'With offices in Brussels and London, Consumers for Health Choice is a consumer advocacy organisation promoting freedom of choice in natural health products, including food supplements and herbal remedies.'



  3. Consumers for Health Choice Response GOV.UK, accessed 20 March 2015
  5. Nicole Martin: Herbal remedies under threat from 'ludicrous' law THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON), October 31, 2005
  8. Consumers for Health Choice Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 10 December 2006.
  9. The Whitehouse Consultancy.Our Clients Accessed 12 January 2010.
  10. House of Commons - Agriculture - Evidence of Minutes. 19 MAY 1998 Select Committee on Agriculture Minutes of Evidence Accessed 12 January 2010.
  11. House of Commons - Agriculture - Evidence of Minutes. 19 MAY 1998 Select Committee on Agriculture Minutes of Evidence Accessed 12 January 2010.
  12. House of Commons - Agriculture - Evidence of Minutes. 19 MAY 1998 Select Committee on Agriculture Minutes of Evidence Accessed 12 January 2010.
  13. Peet, M. Times of Malta Dalli Urged To Save Our Supplements Accessed 10 January 2010.
  14. Peet, M. Times of Malta Dalli Urged To Save Our Supplements Accessed 10 January 2010.