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CHFA Responds to New York State Attorney General Supplement Testing

On February 4, 2015

TORONTO, February 4, 2015 – Following is the official response of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) to findings issued in a press release from the New York State Attorney General requesting that four major US retail chains stop selling specific brands of natural health products (NHPs) based on the results from DNA barcoding testing.

CHFA reminds all consumers that Natural Health Products (NHPs) are regulated by Health Canada under the Natural Health Products Regulations that follow a strict protocol for licensing all NHPs sold in Canada to ensure consumer safety. This pre-market approval process has positioned Canada as a global leader in the regulation of NHPs.

As part of Health Canada’s product authorization process, a company must complete a Product Licence Application (PLA), which is reviewed by the Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada. This application must demonstrate that the product is safe, effective and of high quality. Each application must provide information about the product including medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients used, scientific research supporting any health claims, product labeling, and information about the manufacturing site. Once approved, Health Canada issues an 8-digit Natural Product Number (NPN), which can be found on the product label and the Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

As part of a PLA, applicant products must also provide an attestation form demonstrating approved testing methods that evaluate a “finished product.” The evaluation must fulfill a number of specifications including ingredient dosage, dosage form and biochemical analyses of performance using standardized laboratory methods. Before being licensed for sale in Canada, a finished product must report the results of standardized laboratory tests demonstrating that the product contains the advertised medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients.

In addition, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) require any Canadian site where NHPs are manufactured, imported, labeled, packaged, distributed, and stored to have a site licence. As a result, all NHPs licensed for sale in Canada must comply with Health Canada’s GMP, which ensures NHPs are packaged, manufactured, stored and monitored appropriately, ensuring high-quality products are available to Canadians.

While CHFA in principle supports the evolution of new and proven testing techniques to ensure consistent and high-quality products are available to Canadians, the DNA barcoding technique for the review of NHPs has not been validated by Health Canada or other regulatory authorities, nor is it widely available to manufacturers at this time.

In summary, CHFA wants to reassure Canadian consumers that they can be confident in the safety, efficacy and quality of their NHPs by shopping at their local health food store and looking for the NPN on their product label.