Source: NZ Herald
Claims made about the benefits of natural health products such
as vitamins will need to be backed by evidence under a new
An industry body has hailed the move and says it will help the
banning of products such as the "miracle" Ebola cure recently sold
by a "health and healing" church.
How best to control natural health products has been a
long-running debate, with plans for a joint Australasian regulatory
authority scrapped after concerns about cost and a loss of
Health officials have told the local industry that a new regime,
separate from those for food and medicines, will likely be in place
Only over-the-counter products will be controlled by the Natural
Health and Supplementary Products Bill.
Unlike medicines - which are considered higher risk - there will
be no assessment of individual products before they are sold.
Instead, once a manufacturer's factory is approved, products
will be processed through internet-based self-certification if the
ingredients were on the permitted list of more than 5500
A list of health conditions will be also published. Products can
claim health benefits relating to these if supporting evidence is
supplied and made available.
For example, the condition "common cold" would be on the list of
named conditions, meaning a manufacturer can submit evidence that
their product can relieve cold symptoms.
The product label could then claim: "Product 'Cold Relief' is
helpful in the relief of symptoms associated with the common
At present only weak, generalised claims are permitted.
All manufacturers of natural health and supplementary products
will have to be licensed, including those outside New Zealand.
"It will help consumers an awful lot more if we can actually say
that taking vitamin C can help with a cold, for example," said
Alison Quesnel, executive director of Natural Products NZ, an
"Clearly, colds and flu will be amongst [listed conditions].
Obviously cancer won't be. And there will be a list of claims you
can make around those conditions."
Ms Quesnel said every industry had its share of "cowboys", but
the vast majority of products manufactured here already met
rigorous standards in order to be exported to overseas markets,
which were ahead of New Zealand in terms of demanding audited
Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said in a statement the new
regime was intended to be "light touch".
"The bill is intended to regulate low-risk natural health
products in a way that is proportionate to the risk they pose ...
with low fees and compliance costs, be easy to use and minimise the
need for relabelling."
What's in a word?
Shoppers will not have to read between the lines when buying
products like vitamins when new legislation is passed, an industry
Alison Quesnel, executive director of Natural Products NZ, said
health benefits of products could be clearly labelled in Australia
and other countries.
"You can say on your product - 'can help with arthritis pain'.
And products in Australia can have names like, Joint Pain or
Migraine Aid or something like that.
"Whereas here, people are having to be really creative. A phrase
that I used - "May help winter ills and chills" - when I was
general manager at Blackmores, was the one we used to laugh at
because that was all we could say."
- NZ Herald