Natural health products

Information on the regulation of natural health products.

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What are natural health products?

Natural health products are products intended to support health and wellness that are made from natural ingredients, or synthetic equivalents such as synthetic vitamins. 

Natural health products include herbal remedies (including capsules, tonics, and skin creams), vitamin and mineral supplements, traditional Māori remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathic remedies, and some remedies based on animal products, such as deer velvet and fish oil capsules.

Supplemented foods, such as bread or juice fortified with vitamins and minerals, are not considered to be natural health products. They are regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Read more on the regulation of supplemented foods.

How are natural health products currently regulated?

There is currently no legislation specific to natural health products in New Zealand. Natural health products may be regulated in the following ways: 

  • dietary supplements such as vitamin and mineral tablets are regulated under the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985. The Food Act 2014 enables the regulations to stay in effect until new legislation is developed to replace them (see below). The Ministry for Primary Industries regulates manufacture of dietary supplements, and Medsafe administers other aspects of the Regulations under delegated authority. Read more on the regulation of dietary supplements.
  • beauty products such as skin creams are regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority through the Cosmetic Products Group Standard 2017, under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 2017. Read more on the regulation of cosmetics
  • some products derived from animals are regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries, under the Animal Products Act 1999. Read more on the Animal Products Act
  • a natural health product will be a medicine under the Medicines Act 1981 if its main purpose is therapeutic, as defined in Section 4 of the Medicines Act. If a product contains an ingredient listed in Schedule 1 of the Medicines Regulations 1984, this usually implies that the product has a therapeutic purpose. Read more about medicines regulation
  • the commercial sale and promotion of natural health products are also regulated under general consumer legislation (Fair Trading Act 1986 and Consumer Guarantees Act 1993). Read more on business obligations under consumer legislation

Developing a new system

The Ministry of Health intends to develop a new regulatory scheme for natural health products. The aims of the new regulatory scheme will include: 

  • supporting consumer safety by helping to make sure that natural health products are safe, and that users can make an informed choice about whether to use them 
  • supporting the natural health products industry and exports by making clear and fair rules, and assuring other countries that New Zealand products are safe.

View also the draft Natural health products permitted substances list.

Dietary Supplements Regulations 

While the proposed regulatory system for natural health products is being developed, the expiry of the Dietary Supplements Regulations will be extended from 1 March 2021 to 1 March 2026. The Food (Continuation of Dietary Supplements Regulations) Amendment Bill to extend the Regulations was introduced to parliament on 12 May 2020. 

The extension will ensure that the status quo for dietary supplement regulation continues until the proposed natural health products system takes effect. Read more on the extension to the Dietary Supplements Regulations

Read more on the Food (Continuation of Dietary Supplements Regulations) Amendment Bill

We intend to have the proposed system in place well before the new expiry date. 

More information

If you would like more information on the regulation of natural health products, please contact us on [email protected]

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