The Ministry of Health says the new regulatory scheme which will be phased in under the new legislation is intended to ensure that natural health and supplementary products are safe to use, contain what they say they do, and that the health claims attached to them are verifiably true.
Natural Products NZ represents around 85 percent of players in the New Zealand natural products market. Executive director Alison Quesnel says the NH&SP bill is an important piece of legislation which will benefit consumers, the natural health and supplementary products industry and New Zealand as a whole.
She feels it will promote retail sales by increasing consumer confidence in natural products. Once the bill has passed, Quesnel says, trainers sent by natural product suppliers to educate retail staff in health food stores and pharmacies will be able to say “a lot more”, enabling staff to pass on that greater level of detail to customers.
She defended the bill against those who felt it would limit consumer choice.
“We feel that the Ministry of Health has bent over backwards to consult all interested parties so as to ensure that the legislation is workable from an industry and consumer perspective. It has therefore been disappointing to learn of considerable scare-mongering and misinformation from some quarters who claim that consumers will no longer be able to access many natural products.”
This claim is not true, says Quesnel, who has clarified that there is and will continue to be a process for adding extra ingredients to the Approved Ingredients List.
She hopes the bill will soon pass into law: “The new regulation is timely due to consumers’ growing demand for alternative options to maintain health and assist disease prevention.
“Local and global consumer demand is accelerating so New Zealand therefore needs a modern regulatory environment that recognises consumers’ right to information about natural health products and their functions, and the right to access products that are safe and effective.”