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NZWA comment on Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Wellness Association (NZWA) has previously expressed its support for the new Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill introduced by New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson. The bill is now available for viewing on the Parliament website:

Joanne Bisset, the General Manager of the NZWA, notes that "this bill solves some major problems for New Zealand consumers and producers of health supplements. The current restrictions on making health claims means that suppliers are not allowed to provide consumers with access to research that their products are based on. Suppliers instead have to use vague, suggestive wording of how their products can help, which leads to a confusing situation for consumers.

This absurd situation means that proven and accepted benefits of health supplements cannot be advertised to New Zealand consumers by New Zealand companies. This includes benefits that have been clinically proven, like kava kava for treating anxiety, vitamin C for treating colds, and St John’s Wort for treating depression.

"A key feature of the proposed legislation is that evidence-backed therapeutic health claims will be able to be made about health supplements. When making claims, suppliers must disclose the level of evidence that supports the claim, based on a 10-level reliability scale, ranging from systematic reviews, through to traditional evidence, to expert opinions. It will also allow suppliers to include links to research on their websites and to provide information on the common usage of particular ingredients.

"Manufacturers of health supplements will be required to register under a national programme under the Food Act 2014. A national programme uses a risk-based approach to manufacturing standards. This means that manufacturing higher risk products will require more rigorous manufacturing standards than lower risk products. The regulator will also be able to undertake spot-checks of products for quality-assurance purposes and more active enforcement will take place against mislabelling.

"The status quo will remain for practitioners, who, in the course of their duties, will be exempt from the new requirements for manufacturing and labelling. This is an important consideration to ensure that the public retains access to traditional practitioner products, like those of rongoā Māori practitioners.

"These changes will help to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions when buying products for their health, and they can be assured that products contain what is stated on the label. It also levels the playing field for suppliers who face increased competition from online stores based offshore", says Bisset.

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