Health Canada has reportedly notified companies that it will no longer accept natural-health product (NHP) applications for functional foods and similar products that are “represented, packaged and sold as foods.” According to media sources, the agency in a letter to industry explained that NHPs such as prepackaged beverages, protein mixes and other products resembling conventional foods would henceforth fall under food regulations and must adhere to food safety, labeling and marketing standards. Among the approximately 1,000 products affected are those whose manufacturers must work with Health Canada to substantiate health claims, those ready for market without formulation, and those that will need reformulation before accessing the market. The agency anticipates that, with the exception of energy drinks, foods currently being marketed as NHPs will conclude the transition process by the end of December 2012. See Post Media News, April 19, 2012.  

This latest move to re-categorize NHPs is apparently part of Health Canada’s three-year effort “to ensure that products that look like foods and are consumed as foods are regulated as foods.” It also follows on the agency’s October 2011 decision to require energy drinks currently marketed as NHPs to transition to the food regulatory framework as well. Additional details about Health Canada’s energy drink transition strategy appear in Issue 413 of this Update.