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Natural health products: neither food nor drugs - Association calls for the amendment of Bill C-51

TORONTO, Ontario, May 9, 2008 – The Canadian Health Food Association, Canada’s largest trade association representing the natural products and organics industry is asking federal parliamentarians to make good on a promise made 10 years ago when reviewing legislation to amend the current Food & Drugs Act or Bill C-51.

Tabled April 8, Bill C-51 is intended to modernize Canada’s regulatory system for foods, drugs, and cosmetics, which hasn’t seen a major review since 1953. According to Health Canada, "therapeutic products" covers all products used for therapeutic purposes, such as drugs, medical devices, cells, tissues, organs, and veterinary drugs, as well as natural health products (NHPs).

“NHPs are low-risk products that are neither foods nor drugs,” says CHFA President Penelope Marrett, “a conclusion accepted by the House of Common’s Standing Committee on Health in 1998 but that has yet to be honoured.”

Then Health Minister Allan Rock announced in 1999 that he accepted all 53 recommendations made in the Standing Committee on Health in its report on NHPs. The report, Natural Health Products: A New Vision, lead to the Office of Natural Health Products, now called the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), and the implementation of the Standing Committee’s 53 recommendations.

“Bill C-51 is the perfect opportunity to respond to the very first of the 53 recommendations with the creation of a separate category for NHPs in the legislation,” says Marrett.

Other significant amendments to the Food & Drugs Act proposed in Bill C-51 include increased powers of enforcement and higher penalties/fines to persons contravening a provision of the Act and regulations.

“What is needed now is a separate category that ensures the more than 75 per cent of Canadians who have ever used NHPs to achieve optimal health and wellbeing continue to have access and choice,” says Marrett.


The Canadian Health Food Association ( is Canada’s largest national trade association dedicated to the natural and organic products industry. Our members represent the entire supply chain including growers, manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and importers involved in a variety of industry sub-sectors such as vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal products, homeopathics, sports nutrition products, natural and organic foods, fibres and health and beauty aids. CHFA member products support Canadians seeking optimal health and quality of life.

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