Natural health products legislation

Natural health and supplementary products are widely consumed around the world and in New Zealand. Since 2011 we have been engaged in developing the legislation to balance the demand for commercial enterprise, consumer choice, and protecting public health safety through sound scientific evidence for the use of natural health and complementary medicine.

The Bill is currently out for consultation. Here is our summary of the key points:

  • Is it a natural health product (NHP) or a food?
    • It’s a NHP if it is presented in a therapeutic form such as tablet, capsules, liquid or powders, topical creams, and has controlled dosage instructions.
    • It’s a food if it is presented in a traditional food from such as a bar or drink or mixed with other food and must comply with the Food Act 2014.
    • NHPs sold over the counter may only contain permitted substances from the following classes:
      • A plant or a plant material, an alga, a fungus, or a non-human animal material
      • Vitamin or provitamin (synthetic or natural)
      • Mineral compounds
      • A micro-organism, whole or extracted, except a vaccine
      • Any amino acids:
      • Processing additives

A draft list of permitted substances is available here.

  • Health benefit claims can be made based on a draft list of named conditions, which is based on:
    • The maintenance or promotion of health or wellness
    • Nutritional support
    • Vitamin or mineral supplementation
    • Affecting or maintaining the structure or function of the body
    • Relief of symptoms.
    • There are about 450 allowable conditions ranging from Alzheimers to warts (you can download a spreadsheet with them).
    • Evidence is required with a reference to a website with a summary of the evidence supporting the health claims for a product, so that consumers can easily see the basis for the claims.
    • Before a product is sold it must be notified to the Ministry of Health via an online form. Products will be listed on a publicly accessible website so that everyone will be able to see what is on the market and what evidence supports the claims made. Unlike medicines, there will be no pre-market review of individual products.
    • The manufacturing facility for the NHP must have a well-defined quality assurance system that incorporates the principles of good manufacturing practice.
    • The Bill is intended to come into force by July 2016.

Please contact Jane to discuss managing risk and building your brand in the complex world of health claims for foods and NHPs.

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