Beauty Food Bill:Boom or Bomb?

Nutricosmetics are defined as ingestible products that are formulated and marketed specifically for beauty purposes. They are the intersection between cosmetics and nutrition, and first gained popularity in Japan and Europe. Although still a tiny part of the overall cosmetics industry, nutricosmetics is the fastest-growing segment, showing double-digit annual growth for several years now.

A variety of factors are driving this beauty food boom; increased awareness of the link between nutrition and physical appearance, as well as an ageing and savvy population that demands less-invasive, premium-quality products with proven efficacy.
In Asia, hydrolysed collagen has been added to drinks, dietary supplements, confectionery and dairy products, promising beauty from within, based on ex vivo and clinical studies.  Legislation called Food for Specified Health Use (FOSHU) has been in place since 1991 in Japan, allowing greater scope for beauty claims related to dietary supplements.

According to Garth Wylie from the CTFA, there are no specific laws governing nutraceuticals or nutricosmetics in New Zealand, rather the claims they are permitted to make. Any medicinal claims are prohibited by law, unless a product is specifically registered as a medicine, and in New Zealand it is not possible for a product to be both a medicine and a cosmetic.

To his knowledge there have been no instances of brands being prosecuted for breaking the law, because Medsafe, the regulating body, is quick to step in and send warning letters so that the matter can be resolved.

It has been identified that current legislation for dietary supplements (which also covers nutricosmetics) is out of date, and a new regulatory system called the ‘Natural Health Products Bill’ has been drafted. If passed, the system will, for the first time in New Zealand, introduce risk-based regulation of natural health products, using an approach that enables product sponsors to gain market authorisation by self-certification against the system requirements. Officials are undertaking detailed work to define the interface between natural health products, medicines, food and cosmetics, in consultation with an expert advisory group.

The bill provides for:
• The establishment of a natural health products regulator within the Ministry of Health.
• Natural health products to be notified to an online register
• Recognition of assessments by approved regulators of ingredients, claims and evidence of health benefits, and manufacturing standards.
• A list of prohibited ingredients.
• Notification of new ingredients prior to marketing.
• Export certification.
• An appeals mechanism.
• Regulation-making powers to set labelling requirements, manufacturing standards, and standards of evidence required to make a claim of health benefit.
• An exemption from notification and manufacturing requirements for certain categories of product, including those made by a practitioner for a patient.
• The appointment of a technical expert advisory committee.
Although supportive of all relevant and constructive legislation, Garth Wylie of the CTFA has expressed his concern at a potentially expensive and time-consuming system, based on analysis of a similar Bill passed in Australia.

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