FAQ

DEFINITIONS

What is a natural product?
There is no universal legal definition of the term ‘natural’. Broadly speaking, natural products are directly formulated from organisms and substances (such as plants, algae or minerals) found in nature.

How does New Zealand legislation define ‘natural product’?
In the forthcoming Natural Health Products Bill a natural product is defined as: “Any product that is, or appears to be, manufactured for human use; and for the primary purpose of bringing about a health benefit to the person who uses the product”.

What does the Global Burden of Disease mean?
This term was used in a 2010 study* in over 50 countries, which quantified health loss levels and trends due to disease, injury and risk factors. The study discussed how high burden diseases (e.g. diabetes and cardiovascular disease) are putting a significant strain on the health system because current treatment is inadequate for reversing or halting such diseases’ progression.
(*Ref: Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010, led by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington http://www.healthdata.org)

What is integrative medicine?
It is an approach that integrates alternative and mainstream medical practices.

HEALTH CHOICES

Is it ok to self-medicate with dietary supplements or should I seek advice before taking anything?
Natural Health Products NZ recommends people consult a health professional before taking any dietary supplement.

How do I know which natural products to trust?
Natural Health Products NZ members adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is actively enforced. This means that our members have agreed to produce high quality products that are safe and effective.

How do I know the products I take have accurate ingredient labelling?
New Zealand law requires all natural products made and sold here to have accurate ingredient labelling. Our exporters also must adhere to other territories labelling requirements.

How can I be sure the products will work?
As is the case with other types of health remedies, natural products work best if the correct product is taken for the health condition, and the right dosage is taken at the right time. This is why we recommend that people consult with a health professional before taking any dietary supplements.

Please be aware that natural products tend to take longer to work than pharmaceutical medicines, and the improvement may be felt more gradually. Your health professional will be able to advise you on what to expect.

Is taking dietary supplements usually the best option?
Although healthy lifestyle choices are the best option, this is not always possible or practical so it can help to take dietary supplements. Every case is different so we recommend consulting with a health professional for further advice.

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS BILL (NHP BILL)

What is the NHP Bill’s purpose?
The Bill has been “under construction” for 16 years and its purpose is to provide regulation specifically for dietary supplements (which currently come under the Food Act). The Bill aims to ensure that natural health and supplementary products:

• are safe to use
• make health claims that are true
• contain what their label says they do

When will the NHP Bill be passed and when will it come into effect?
The Bill is expected to pass into law late in 2014 and would take effect immediately. There will be a three year grace period to give companies time to ensure products made and/or sold in New Zealand fully comply with the new law. Products made in NZ solely for export will have to comply with the law of the country of destination, and if required the Ministry of Health will supply export certificates for those products that comply.

What will happen to the products I buy now once the Bill becomes law?
We anticipate that the vast majority of products on the market today will still be available under the new law. What will change is that the product labels and promotional material will be allowed to carry more information about their health benefits. For example, it is currently against the law for glucosamine products to carry advice that this preparation helps to prevent arthritis. Under the new law this helpful information will be permitted.

What about imported products?
We anticipate that most imported products from other countries will not be adversely affected because it will be fairly easy and inexpensive to gain NHP accreditation provided that the products meet the requirements. However, banning any non-compliant products will protect consumers and safeguard New Zealand’s natural products industry from being undermined by unscrupulous manufacturers and suppliers.

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS NZ

What is Natural Health Products NZ’s purpose?
We are the industry association for natural products in New Zealand. Our mission statement is: “To increase the profile of New Zealand as a source of quality natural products and to foster the development of a sustainable natural products sector through collaboration.” We do this by:

  • Helping the natural products industry to build upon its significant and growing contribution to New Zealand’s economy (currently an estimate $1 billion per year).
  • Advocating for workable regulation.
  • Ensuring the industry maintains high product quality, safety and efficacy standards.
  • Promoting natural health products’ recognised complementary role in health management and support.
  • Facilitating the growth and development of a vibrant, collaborative and innovative industry.
  • Providing a cohesive and consistent national voice for the New Zealand industry.
  • Enhancing New Zealand’s international reputation as a source of high quality natural products.

How do you make sure your members are operating ethically and in line with the law?
All members are required to sign our Code of Conduct and to abide by that. If a breach of this Code is brought to our attention the Natural Health Products NZ Board takes it up with the company concerned.

What is Natural Health Products NZ’s view on pharmaceutical drugs?
Natural Health Products NZ promote integrative medicine, which is a holistic approach to healthcare that combines alternative and mainstream medical practises and therapies (including pharmaceutical drugs, where appropriate).

How is Natural Health Products NZ governed?
Natural Health Products NZ is governed by a Board of Directors, which is elected by full members at the Annual General Meeting. Under the terms of our constitution, the board may comprise between 5 and 9 members.

OTHER

Why are dietary supplements and pharmaceutical drugs legislated differently?
Supplements are not considered drugs mostly due to the low level of risk to consumers. Therefore supplements are not put through the same strict safety and effectiveness requirements as medicines are.

Why is there such fast growth in consumer demand for dietary supplements and other natural products?
Natural health products have a recognised complementary role to play in health management and support. Although there are many different reasons for the increasing demand worldwide, it reflects a growing desire for affordable, effective and holistic health care options that complement or replace pharmaceutical products.

 

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