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Canada to change standards for natural health products

Natural health products

(NaturalNews) The Canadian government is cracking down on claims made on natural health products. Newly proposed rules could give Health Canada the authority to recall natural health products and cosmetics it deems unsafe, impose fees on manufacturers and enact tougher penalties for violators, according to reporting by The Globe and Mail.

Health Canada is the federal agency responsible for ensuring national public health. It collaborates with provinces and territories to uphold the integrity of Canada's healthcare system, while looking for ways to improve it.

The new proposal is a result of "the proliferation of misleading and unproven claims on product labels."

In Canada, natural health products are currently regulated similarly to prescription drugs, meaning that manufacturers are required to apply for government licenses in order for products to reach store shelves. Each product is assigned a unique number that appears on labels, providing indication of approval from the government.

Natural health products, cosmetics and over-the-counter drugs to be governed under one set of rules in Canada

However, unlike prescription drugs, natural health manufacturers are not currently required to provide extensive research backing product claims.

But if the new system is approved, natural health products, cosmetics and over-the-counter drugs will be governed under one set of rules and be regulated based on each product's potential health risks.

The new system would classify many vitamins, minerals and homeopathic products, as well as cosmetics as "low risk." These products would not be licensed by Health Canada.

"Manufacturers would still have to meet Health Canada's quality standards, but they would be prohibited from making disease treatment or prevention claims on product labels."

Makers of natural health products could face steeper fines if new rules are approved

"Any other claims on product labels would have to be accompanied by a disclaimer stating the information has not been verified by Health Canada," The Globe and Mail reports.

Many in the holistic health community feel that tougher regulations on natural health products are unfair, considering the fact that many conventionally sold products that have remained on store shelves for years are far more unsafe.

For example, in the U.S., many rice protein products sold in commercial retailers have been found to contain high levels of toxic heavy metals. Through lab testing, the Health Ranger identified that rice protein products contain cadmium, tungsten and lead.

For more information on those results, click here.

Under Canada's proposed rules, products considered to have a "moderate" or "higher risk" will undergo a government review.

Only companies that can back up such claims with scientific evidence will be allowed to make health claims. Examples of these products include allergy medications and over-the-counter painkillers.

The reason for the proposed rule change is so that Canadians can trust the safety and efficacy of the products they are purchasing, said Health Canada.

Under the new rules, consumers purchasing homeopathic remedies will have a better understanding about whether they work or not, said the agency.

"If someone is marketing something, they're going to have to back that up with evidence," said Timothy Caulfield, a Canada research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

Companies caught violating the new standards could face steeper penalties, as well. The maximum fine is currently set at $5,000 for natural health products and cosmetics. But for drug companies, it's $5 million.

User fees might also be applied to companies selling natural health products and cosmetics.

The move is similar to one made by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA), which established new standards for claims made on infant formula.

If approved, the infant formula industry will have to "gather evidence to back assertions of how their products actually function in a baby's body."

Infant formula products claim to increase intelligence, reduce colic and be allergy-proof

The FDA says that because infancy is a "vulnerable period when critical growth and development occur," more precautions should be taken "to ensure the safety of all modifications to infant formula, even if the purpose of the modification is to more closely mirror the composition and health benefits of human milk."

The FDA's proposal will be adopted pending a 60-day comment period.





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