Canadian Natural Health Products Legislation
~ May 2001 No.129 ~
Long before the arrival of functional foods and nutraceuticals in the marketplace, natural food health products were found exclusively in what were called natural food stores. The number of food products being sold as "good for health" is increasing. Consumers rely on regulatory officials to oversee the product quality and safety of products sold. Many governments, including the Canadian government, are trying to update their legislation to regulate the labelling and health claims made by these new products reduce confusion and protect the consumer.
The Canadian Government is about to establish a policy that will clearly define what a natural health product is. Until now, the distinction between nutraceutical products and natural health products has not been clear. It is apparent that many products now considered as nutraceutical products will, in future, be regarded as natural health products in Canada.
- According to a consultation document released by Health Canada, natural health products are products manufactured, sold or represented for use in:
- - the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder, or abnormal physical state or its symptoms in humans
- - restoring or correcting organic functions in humans
- - maintaining or promoting health or otherwise modifying organic functions in humans
These three characteristics could easily be applied to functional foods and nutraceutical products. Health Canada recognized that there may still be some confusion and has proposed that suitable wording be found to exclude conventional and functional foods from the natural products category. This should help the consumer.
- In the future the following will be considered as natural health products in Canada :
- - herbs
- - homeopathic preparations
- - substances used in traditional (including Chinese, North American Indian, Ayurvedic) medicine
- - minerals, and trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, essential and other fatty acids, and other botanical, animal or micro-organism derived substances.
What is not clear at this time is the type of label claim that will be allowed on natural health products and whether the type of scientific evidence required to make claims for natural health products will be the same as are being proposed for functional foods.
Natural and Non-prescription Health Products