Many fresh foods travel great distances and many foods are processed to increase shelf life. Although developments in the food industry over time have improved food quality and safety, there are still concerns over the nutritional content the food actually contains. Also known as dietary supplements, nutritional supplements are an important part of a balanced health regime and can offer significant health benefits. Nutritional and dietary supplements are big business. In the United States, the FDA regulates dietary supplements. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. On January 1, 2004 The Natural Health Products Regulations came into effect and apply to all natural health products. Natural health products that fall under these regulations require an NPN (Natural Product Number). Once Health Canada has assessed the product, an eight digit product license number, preceded by the letters “NPN” will appear on the label informing consumers that Health Canada has reviewed the product for safety, quality, and health claims, and the product has been approved to be marketed under the Natural Health Products Regulations and has authorized the product for sale in Canada. The Natural Health Product Directorate (NHPD) is the regulating authority for health products for sale in Canada.
Nutritional supplements that are considered food products or whole-food concentrates come under the regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and do not require NPNs.