NZ Supplement Laws Change Could Encourage Research and Innovation
This article first appeared in Natural Products Global, part of Diversified’s global natural & organic network. Written by Jim Manson.
Proposed changes to laws governing the manufacturing and marketing of health supplements in New Zealand could lead to increasing investment in research and product innovation, predicts advocacy group NZWA.
The Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill, which proposes to bring health supplements under the framework of food regulation, was recently submitted to the Member’s Bill ballot by New Zealand First List MP Mark Patterson. The Bill replaces the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill which lapsed when Parliament was dissolved at election time last year.
The new Bill would simplify the regulatory process in bringing a product to the market, while also requiring suppliers to be able to substantiate any health claims. And for the first time in New Zealand it would permit the use of health claims, provided that suppliers could substantiate them to agreed standards.
Under the Bill, health supplements include herbal remedies, traditional medicines, homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements, as well as their synthetic equivalents. The natural products industry contributes an estimated NZ$1.4 billion ((US$953 million) per annum to New Zealand economy, with exports valued at NZ$285 million (US$194 million) per annum.
Commenting on the development, Joanne Bisset, general manager of the New Zealand Wellness Association(NZWA), said: “This is a great opportunity for the New Zealand natural health industry to work with Parliament to create a regulatory framework that is risk-proportionate and that allows consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy for their health.
“Under current legislation, suppliers are severely restricted in what they can say about products, even when there is good quality research to support their claims. This presents a huge challenge for local suppliers competing in an online market, where offshore suppliers on sites like iHerb and Amazon are widely making these restricted claims. It also limits New Zealand consumers from receiving information from New Zealand retailers that would help them in making their decisions.”
“The previously proposed legislation, the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill, was fortunately abandoned by the current government last year. That bill imposed high compliance costs that would have been very difficult for small businesses to meet and would have been passed on to the consumer, with the costs ultimately outweighing the benefits. It also imposed large barriers to entry, which was not supportive of New Zealand’s culture of innovation.
“The NZWA notes that an export-focused New Zealand company can voluntarily comply with any other country’s compliance regime if that is of benefit to them. However, the export industry as a whole has continued to grow despite the Natural Health Products and Supplementary Products Bill never progressing through Parliament. According to Natural Health Products New Zealand, there have been consistent and large increases in exports of New Zealand products.”
In a blog piece, Bissett says that the lifting of restrictions on suppliers’ ability to share research information on natural health products and ingredients with consumers ought to lead to a better flow of in information on natural health approaches, while a changed “incentive structure” would “actively encourage research into the benefits of products, to both support existing products and to allow new products to be developed.”
About the author: Jim Mason
Jim Manson is editor-in-chief of Diversified Communications UK‘s natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, and World Bank Urban Age.
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