Maurice Hanssen, a leading figure of the European health and natural food industry, passed away on November 21, 2005, at the age of 74. As a leader and member of multiple trade associations, an international consultant, and a dedicated industry spokesman, Mr. Hanssen contributed greatly to the presence and credibility of the health food sector and its products.
Throughout his career, Mr. Hanssen contributed to the creation and development of several industry trade associations. He became founding chairman of the Health Food Manufacturer’s Association in 1965, and he later served as its president. In 1975, he helped form the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers, again serving as president at one point, then life president. Further, Mr. Hanssen assisted in the development of both the UK Council for Responsible Nutrition and the UK Vitamin Forum. In 1997, he encouraged widespread industry participation in the inaugural meeting of the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA).
“Maurice was everything you could desire in a colleague on or off a committee,” said Michael McIntyre, chairman of the European Herbal Practitioners Association (e-mail, January 30, 2006). “He was warm-hearted with a wonderful sense of humor, infectious laugh and mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was larger than life and filled the meeting rooms with his jovial presence.”
Simon Pettman, executive director of IADSA, likewise remembered Hanssen for his light-hearted and friendly manner. “I, of course, knew Maurice well and had worked with him on numerous initiatives over the past 18 years. What made Maurice special was his exceptional ability to connect with so many key people whether in business or in government. I never ceased to be amazed how Maurice was able to go into a meeting with, for example, an official vehemently opposed to supplementation, and come out of the room as friends. It was a special ability but one which was based on Maurice’s permanent curiosity and love of life” (e-mail, January 29, 2006).
In addition to his consulting and committee work, Mr. Hanssen was a celebrated author. His bestselling book E for Additives, published in 1986, alerted consumers to the increasing and potentially dangerous inclusion into foods of synthetic chemicals. It further led food companies and governments to reevaluate the future direction of food manufacturing.
“Even when he was struggling with his health, he continued to attend meetings and campaign tirelessly for the rights of the consumer to access healthy food, natural medicines and CAM [complementary and alternative] treatments,” McIntyre said. “We all owe him a great debt of gratitude. Now he is no longer in our meetings. He will be greatly missed for his wisdom, sense of fun, and ever generous encouragement.”
Mr. Hanssen is survived by his wife, son, and 5 grandchildren.
1. Health Food Manufacturer’s Association. Maurice Hanssen obituary. Health Matters. December 2005:25.
2. Van Doorn P. Industry mourns passing of pioneer Maurice Hanssen. Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals. January 2006. Available at: http://www.ffnmag.com/ASP/articleDisplay.asp?strArticleId=872&strSite=FFNSITE&Screen=CURRENTISSUE. Accessed February 9, 2006.