Canada's Advanced NHP Regulations

Canada’s world-class Natural Health Product Regulations

Canadians can be justifiably proud that we now have one of the world’s most rigorous and advanced systems for protecting our health and safety and ensuring we have access to innovative, safe, effective and high quality Natural Health Products (NHPs).

The Canadian approach to regulation is often referred to as a “pre-approval” system which means that all NHPs must be approved by Health Canada before they are allowed to be legally sold to Canadians. In addition, Health Canada separates NHPs from food and uses a rigorous licensing process similar to that used to approve pharmaceutical products for sale.

Other countries have alternative methods for regulating NHPs.  For example, the United States regulates NHPs (known as “dietary supplements”) as food products and uses an approach referred to as “post market reporting.” This means that NHPs can be marketed and sold in the U.S. without government testing or approval and manufacturers are expected to report any adverse effects. 

The eight numbers

At the heart of this Canadian system is the mandatory Natural Product Number (NPN), an eight-digit number located on the product label. Found on all licensed NHPs for sale in Canada, this number means that the product has been assessed and approved by Health Canada.  Best of all, all the information attached to this number is completely traceable.

The NPN on your natural health product can be used to find a wealth of information about that specific product using Health Canada’s Licensed Natural Health Products Database.

You can read more about decoding the label of your NHP here.