Who is CHFA?
The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is Canada’s largest member based trade association dedicated to natural health and organic products. Our members include manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and importers of natural health and organic products. These products can include foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal products, sports nutrition products, health and beauty aids, organic foods and more.
It is CHFA’s mission to create opportunities for members to thrive, cultivating an innovative industry through advocacy, education and experience.
The natural health product (NHP) industry and the organic sector collectively contribute $9 billion to the Canadian economy each year, while positively supporting Canada’s health care system. With approximately 2,800 health food stores and over 10,000 businesses directly involved in the sector, our sector provides jobs and opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses across the country. The products made and sold by these Canadian businesses are in demand in Canada and beyond because of the quality of our products and the strength of our world-class regulatory system.
Health Canada plans to categorize Natural Health Products (NHPs) as self-care products, along with cosmetics and non-prescription drugs. In the Forward Regulatory Plan, released in February 2021, Health Canada signaled their intentions to proceed with labelling amendments for NHPs. Our position is that proceeding with the current proposal completely ignores ongoing operational challenges impacting our members and significant changes in consumer behaviour that have accelerated during the pandemic, where consumers are relying on digital and online sources of products and information.
The proposed framework comes with labelling changes that could prove to be costly to industry and result in significant changes to how products are packaged and labelled.
We have asked the Minister of Health to not move forward with the proposed labelling changes and instead consult with stakeholders on the impact the pandemic has had on businesses in our sector and shared priorities within the proposed self-care framework. However, Health Canada proceeded with the proposal. On June 26, 2021 the consultation for Regulations Amending the Natural Health Products Regulations were officially published in Canada Gazette Part I for a 70-day consultation period.
These changes will drastically affect the NHP sector resulting in an unnecessary economic burden on every business in the NHP industry, without resulting in any meaningful change for the consumer. This will directly affect our industry’s ability to produce the products that Canadians have come to rely upon.
As a non-intoxicating and natural substance with therapeutic properties, CHFA has advocated for the government to permit CBD as an ingredient in NHPs since cannabis was legalized in 2018. CBD is the part of cannabis that does not get you “high”, and is associated with a number of therapeutic benefits, such as improved sleep, stress relief and acute pain reduction. When sourced from cannabis or hemp, and when used to support consumer health, CBD health products belong under Canada’s established Natural Health Products Framework.
Following the June 2019 release of Health Canada’s consultation paper on a potential regulatory framework for cannabis health products, CHFA launched a “CBD is Natural” advocacy campaign to urge the government to rethink the policies outlined in the proposal and move beyond the status quo by adopting more appropriate regulations for CBD.
In 2020, Health Canada released a Summary Report following the consultation, indicating that their next step was to form a scientific advisory committee to seek external scientific advice that will support consideration of appropriate safety, efficacy and quality standards for health products containing cannabis that would be safe for use without practitioner oversight. In the meantime, analysis will continue as further consultation and scientific advice is sought from external experts, and industry still does not have a path forward for CBD health products.
Canada needs regulations for CBD health products that make sense, where customers can visit their local health food store to purchase safe and regulated NHPs containing CBD.
Food Regulatory Modernization
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada are working on several initiatives to update how food is regulated, labelled and produced in Canada. CHFA has participated in many of these initiatives, and will continue to work with Government to ensure that changes to Canada’s regulatory system support innovation and the continued success of the thousands of Canadian businesses who manufacture and sell organic and specialty foods.