BRUSSELS, Jul 30, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Belgium will ban the sale of tablets and chewing gum which contain fluoride elements because of the risk that they might cause a brittle bone condition, a Health Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
But the ban will not include toothpaste with fluoride, which protects teeth from decay, Tom Ruts said.
The move is believed to be the first such ban in the 15-nation European Union (EU), and may spark renewed debate about the safety of fluoride, which some countries add to public drinking water supplies as a means of improving dental health.
The ban will probably come into force by late August, Ruts said.
Belgian Health Minister Magda Aelvoet also made comments about the plan in the latest issue of Belgium’s weekly magazine, Humo.
Aelvoet told the magazine she hoped her EU partners would follow the example. In these cases, a harmonization within the European Union is of course desirable but I can’t always wait until the European Union is ready, she was quoted as saying.
We will however communicate our official decision to the other European member states in the hope that they will follow us swiftly, said the minister.
Fluoride supplements — such as fluoride tablets and fluoride chewing gum — are promoted by dentists to fight dental caries. They have been sold in Belgium without a doctor’s prescription.
The ministry made the decision after the results of a study commissioned by an advisory board found that excessive use of fluoride products could cause fluoride poisoning, damage the nervous system and foster osteoporosis, where bones become weak and fragile, said the spokesman.
Copyright © 2002 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.