EU kills off Milk of Magnesia

EU legislation has forced Milk of Magnesia, used by thousands to combat diarrhoea and indigestion, off the shelves. Bottles that originally cost around £2 of the stalwart brand are being snapped up on eBay for up to £20.

Why has the EU banned it and what other brands and products has the EU also killed - or attempted to kill - off? %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Side effects

The EU doesn't like Milk of Magnesia because it claims it contains a little bit too much sulphate - which can be anti-inflammatory and anti-depressive - than Brussels likes (too much sulphate can have side effects, though its use is widespread across a range of products).

Milk of Magnesia maker GlaxoSmithKline is thought to be working on a sulphate-lite alternative, but in the meantime the old product has been forced off the shelves.

There's quite a list of products that Brussels doesn't like. Recently the EU attempted to ban the use of unmarked olive oil jugs on restaurant tables across Europe, but the outcry was so huge - including the worry that the law would kill off local, artisanal olive oil producers - the EU was forced to back down.

Vitamins to coffee granules

Some time ago Brussels also attempted to ban vitamin and mineral supplements, preferring to endorse around 300 supplements on an "approved" list rather than the 5,000 or so other supplements, including some Vitamin C brands and calcium capsules.

Last year the Royal Horticultural Society warned British gardeners fighting to keep slugs at bay that they would be breaking EU law if they sprinkled coffee granules around their garden. Home-made recipes not approved by Brussels are now banned.

And if you do 'break' Brussels legislation throwing coffee granules over your hostas, lettuce or strawberry plants, you could now be fined.

Note: GSK (2.45pm)have now confirmed that Milk of Magnesia's product life may be extended. No details yet.

Beware the small print
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EU kills off Milk of Magnesia

It is reasonable to assume that if you take out a mobile phone contract at £30 a month for 24 months that's exactly what you'll pay unless you exceed the tariff. Yet mobile phone providers have come under fire for a snag buried in the small print – a clause to allow mid-contract price rises.

Prices are rising by a median of 81p a month and 70% of consumers are completely unaware off this sneaky move, according to Tesco Mobile, so be sure to check any new contracts before you sign the dotted line.

Financial service providers always refer to 'typical APR' in advertising to attract customers with favourable rates of interest.

Yet the typical APR on loans and credit cards is only available for those applicants who have a squeaky clean credit record, everyone else could end up with a much higher rate. For example, under EU rules, credit card providers only have to provide the typical APR advertised to 51% of applicants.

So always consider this when applying for accounts and products, and if approved – look out the actual APR that you will be charged.

The highest paying savings accounts on the market tend to come with a string of strict terms, which if you fall foul of, result in a drop in interest. Common requirements include paying in a set sum each month and not making withdrawals during a set period.

Make sure to fully understand these terms before opening a savings account and if you choose an account with a six or 12 month bonus, remember that this will plummet when the bonus period ends.

Cashback credit cards that pay you a small percentage each time you spend on the card are full of loopholes in the small print. All have a maximum spend, but many have a minimum spend too.

For example, the Sainsbury's Cashback Low Rate card advertises that it offers users 5% cashback for the first three months. However the 5% cashback is capped at £50 a month. A further 5% cashback is subject to you spending £500 a month on the card (£250 of that at Sainsbury's).

Attempt to repay your mortgage early and you may be greeted with a hefty fee in the form of an early repayment charge. These penalties vary from lender to lender and even deal to deal, but are typically be around 10% of the outstanding balance.

Details of any early repayment charges should be clearly outlined in your mortgage contract but it is worth double-checking with your lender before you try to make a payment.

Insurance is an incredibly complex area of personal finance and different forms of cover are riddled with different hitches that make it crucial to read the small print. Failure to do so could lead you to pay for a product you would be never be able to claim upon, or unknowingly do something that invalidates your claim.

Always buy the right level of cover for your needs and pay close attention to any exclusions in the policy wording. For example, many travel insurance policies for winter sports won't pay out for treatment of injuries incurred while under the influence of alcohol.

Think a credit card can't do any damage at home in your drawer? Think again. Some credit and store cards charge a dormancy fee if you don't use them regularly.

For example, all Santander-issued store cards, including Topshop and Laura Ashley cards among others, charge a fee of £10 if you remain in debit for three consecutive months.

Exceed the monthly usage allowance in your broadband deal and you could be hit with a huge fee. Common with the cheapest broadband deals on the market, penalty charges for going over your contracted limit can push your bills up even higher than if you paid for a deal with unlimited usage.

According to Talk Talk, some households are being forced to pay an additional £40 per month for exceeding their usage allowance. BT for example, charges £5 per every 5GB extra used.

Familiarise yourself with the download limit in your package and the penalties for exceeding it, decide whether you are better off with an unlimited deal.


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