The President of the National Nutritional Foods Association of New Zealand, Bill Bracks, applauds the parliamentary oppositions' stand on defending New Zealand's Complementary Health Products industry in forcing a Select Committee review of the appropriate regulation of Healthcare Products.
Mr Bracks, who is also chairman of Comvita New Zealand Limited, in speaking from Australia says the determined thrust of the MOH toward the introduction of Australia's TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) prescriptive and costly regulatory regime to regulate the New Zealand industry is totally unwarranted given the industry's long history of consumer safety and industry responsibility.
Historically the New Zealand industry has displayed duty of care and responsibility wherever potential reaction or caution is recognized. The voluntary use of warnings on product labeling to ensure public health and safety is standard practice.
Mr Bracks says, "It is ironic that without reference to the regulators the industry can voluntarily place warnings on its packaging but it cannot make any therapeutic claim or indeed tell consumers what a product will beneficially do or what to use it for. In today's enlightened environment it is an affront to consumers understanding and intelligence to suggest public health is at risk from a fifty year old $200 million industry that has grown from zero purely by reputation and word of mouth. Quality and safety speak for themselves."
Bracks continues, "Under the Australian system the trade off for heavy handed, cost intensive regulation is a limited capacity to make claims and inform the public. The catch is the higher the claim the higher the fees paid to the regulator all in the name of public safety. Talking to people working under the Australian system is a disheartening experience."
Regulations never prevented cowboys or criminals from breaking the law. They merely control the law-abiding community and set up penalties for those who are caught breaking the rules. It is a commercial fact of life that no sensible business person would risk their company's image and reputation with consumers by putting public health in jeopardy. The penalty for doing so far outweighs any that a regulator may exact," says Bracks.
The NNFA as an industry body by definition is dedicated to the wellness and safety of New Zealanders. It's very existence is testimony to an ethical gathering of industry representatives who do not want anything but a first rate industry to grow on the back of it's outstanding historical past. The industry does not want New Zealand's unique and often cutting edge technology in Complementary Health products dealt with by Aussie Rules.
In conclusion Bracks says, "The New Zealand Complementary Health Industry enjoys a large growing trade in exports and tourism on the back of our image as a country that is clean green and reliable for high quality healthcare products. Surely this is testimony in itself to the safety and integrity of products from a top performing industry.
Politicians need to understand this and be encouraging an industry that contributes to a healthier nation and the health of others around the world.
The NNFA looks forward to full participation in the inquiry to help ensure that an appropriate evidence-based, risk proportionate and affordable regulatory environment is developed.