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Bill C-51 is all over the news and it's pitting tough government regulations against natural health product sellers who say their "natural" products don't need the proposed standards; the Government says it will raise the bar and weed out the bad guy's.

Bill C-51 is proposed legislation that promises to give more teeth to the current Canadian Food and Drug Act which regulates the manufacturing and selling of foods, supplements, and therapeutic products. Supplement sellers are opposed to the legislation because they feel their products are not drugs and therefore should not require the same scrutiny to guarantee efficacy. However, many supplements have drug - like health claims attached to them.

Supplement sellers believe many of their products, referred to as "natural health products", may not pass the new tougher standards, and they'll lose sales as result.

Under the "Offenses" section of Bill C-51 a person can be fined up to $5,000,000.00 and put in the slammer for up to 2 years for contravening the act. That's much more imposing than the current $5,000.00 maximum fine. There's also more power for investigators to seize property and look at business records.

The natural health product sellers express their concerns by saying their customers access to health products will be restricted by this bill. That sounds altruistic, but what about the concern for their customers access to health products that are actually proven effective?

The Bill is part way through second reading and looking like it's on the way to being passed.

The Healthy Canadians web site, a government information site, says, "The legislation requires vigilance to ensure that tainted products are found and recalled, that what is on the label is actually in the bottle, and that health claims are supported by evidence."

Often tough talk from the government sounds great but is later rendered a lame duck through red tape and loopholes, so this will be the usual wait and see.

Health food stores (I call them "pill shops", because they often have more pills on their shelves than actual food) are worried about the legislation, which makes me suspicious.

Worried about what? A supplement company makes claim X (let's say, "burns fat while you sleep to lose weight"), after going through the scrutiny that Bill C-51 may deliver, low and behold it's discovered the supplement company doesn't have a shred of scientific evidence to prove its claim. So Health Canada says, sorry this doesn't cut it, try again when you have scientific proof of your claim, or, sorry this doesn't cut it, you're a fraud, pay five million.

How does that harm the consumer?

There's a lot of double talk from naysayers about how the Bill is really just another big brother move, or is backed by big pharma who doesn't like unregulated and cheaper "natural health" pills competing with expensively patented medication.

That position is an overly simplistic diversion to prevent having a light shining on the flaky "natural health" pill pushers. Last time I checked I didn't see pills growing on tree's, so just how "natural" are these obviously mass manufactured pills supposed to be?

The bill also covers therapeutic products like those goofy detox foot baths where the water turns brown, apparently because "toxins" are drawn out through your feet. That promise is tough to swallow.

In fact no toxins are drawn out through the feet (impossible), the water turns brown even when you don't put your feet in the device because electrodes in the tub react with the water turning it brown.

Wouldn't it be nice if consumers were protected from such scams and misleading claims?

If Bill C -51 is passed I think I'll celebrate with a real natural health product. I'll eat a 40 cent organic banana. Or maybe I'll eat a 10 cent carrot from my local supermarket. Both of these are dirt cheap, natural, taste great, and are very nutrient dense, with no phony claims attached, and you get some food in you - something a pill won't provide.

After that I'll go for a bike ride where special forces (exercise) will oxygenate my blood, increase my cognitive power, burn fat, control blood sugar, reduce risk of cancer, increase antioxidants in my blood, increase my sexual potency, make me stronger, give me more energy, suppress my appetite, and make my heart stronger. - And I won't have to swallow anything..


2008 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness

Copyright 2004 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca