Joint Green Party-Government legislation to ensure natural health products are safe and true to label is having its first reading in Parliament today.
Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said the Greens-National Natural Health Products Bill would create a stand-alone regulator to protect the growing number of New Zealanders using natural health products to improve their health.
"The reality is, more and more natural health products are being imported into New Zealand and some come from countries with a poor safety record.
"It's important that importers know we have a regulatory regime which requires every product sold in New Zealand to be safe and true to label.
"We are pleased that the natural health industry supports this Bill and that it ensures consumer safety without imposing an onerous regulatory regime that would put small businesses out of business."
The initiative to create a natural health regulator within the Ministry of Health was developed under the Green and National parties' Memorandum of Understanding.
The memorandum between the parties also included successful projects in home insulation, protecting native bush from pests, creating a national cycleway and toxic site management.
Ms Kedgley said the Green Party helped shape the Bill into something which protected both consumers and the industry.
"It demonstrates the value of smaller parties, like the Green Party, having input into Government policy and legislative processes.
"It implements our promise, made before the last election that we would work with whoever was in government to progress key issues we think are important."
• The natural health regulation will cover a wide range of products such as vitamins and Chinese medicines.
• There will be a two year transition for product approvals and three years for meeting manufacturing standards.
• Any products used in other countries with recognised regulatory schemes will be automatically recognised under this scheme.
• Virtually all ingredients and products that are already on the market will be automatically approved by the regulator.
• The government will fund the costs of the regulatory policy, advice, as well as compliance, enforcement and monitoring.
• Set up costs will be paid for by government. Otherwise, the agency will operate on a cost recovery basis.
• Before bringing a product to market, a business will have to enter product information onto an online, electronic data base.
• Instead of lumping natural health products in with food and medicine, the Bill sets up a risk based system for the regulation of natural health products, as a separate and low risk, category of product.
• The practice of Rongoa Maori will be exempt from the Bill, as will products made for a consumer and low-risk products like homeopathy, and export only products.
• The Bill will be referred to a select committee and submissions will be called for, so that it can be progressed early in the next term of Parliament. The Government expects to have a report on or before 30 April 2012.
• There are more than 6000 natural health products on sale in New Zealand and over 450 natural health companies. Those companies have an estimated annual turnover of $760 million.