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Health food industry appalled by new recall

Media Release

14 July 2003

Health food industry appalled by new recall

The Health Food and Supplement Advisory Council is incensed by yet another Pan product recall notice by the Minister for Food Safety (last Friday July 11).

Chairman Bill Bracks says it's causing unnecessary confusion for consumers and hardship to an innocent industry.

"We want to make it clear to our customers that all of our products on shelves around New Zealand are OK and have always been OK. They meet the highest standards of quality and safety. When the Pan disaster first raised its head we - as an industry - responded quickly and responsibly and withdrew all products with Pan ingredients.

"We simply could not afford to take risks with New Zealand consumers."

"We want to send a message to our consumers that they can use health foods and dietary supplement products on shelves in New Zealand with same level of confidence they have previously done.

"In New Zealand, complementary healthcare products are regulated and defined as foods and as such must conform the Food Act which is administered by the Food Safety Authority. They are many times safer than pharmaceutical drugs,' says Mr Bracks.

"The fact that health foods and dietary supplements are regulated under the Food Act gave power to the Minister of Health to make a compulsory recall notice under that Act as soon as she was appraised of the problems in Australia where, in spite of more stringent regulations, the recall was voluntary."

Mr Bracks says there's widespread use of health foods and supplements - over 60% of New Zealanders use them regularly. "It's important for our consumers to know that there never was any detected problem with the safety or efficacy of the products. Based on suspicion of bad practices by the manufacturer Pan, all products were removed and are now being destroyed."

"Products were recalled because of officials' concerns about manufacturing process at Pan. There was no proof or evidence of any problems with any health foods or dietary supplement in either country," says Mr Bracks.

"The latest recall adds insult to injury. From an industry viewpoint we have already recalled all Pan products at huge cost - we don't want a bar of them again. They were obviously rogue manufacturers and it beggars belief that this could happen in Australia - with the most regulated industry in the world."

But Mr Bracks says, "that's little comfort to those who stopped taking their supplements and are anxious about their safety following comments from uninformed misguided or mischievous commentators."

"It is also beyond belief that a serious adverse reaction to an orthodox pharmaceutical drug (Travacalm) turned into a disaster for the healthcare industry.

"As one medical analyst recently pointed out, you are 26,000 times more likely to die of a properly researched, regulated and prescribed drug than a dietary supplement.

"In our industry we focus on wellness and maintaining health - not illness. People who take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing make a significant contribution to their quality of life and save huge expenditure on primary healthcare."

This was quantified in recent Australian research which showed that for every dollar spent on complementary healthcare products four dollars and forty cents was saved in the public health purse.1

The Health Food and Supplements Advisory Council is a new industry group formed to keep the public properly informed of the Australian Pan Pharmaceutical recall and clear up confusion about its products.

It comprises representatives from the major players in the New Zealand industry and will provide a cohesive and responsive voice for the industry.

Council chairman Bill Bracks is also Chairman of Comvita New Zealand, which recently won the Trade New Zealand best consumer product export award.

The New Zealand health food and supplement industry has an annual retail turnover of $222 million. It also exports approximately $100 million of supplements and supplement ingredients and employs over 3000 people.

The group has launched a marketing programme to restore consumer confidence and untangle the confusion surrounding the quality, use and availability of health foods and supplements.



1 ref: Dr M Donahoe, Journal of Complementary Medicines. Jan-Feb 2003

The main points of the second Pan Pharmaceutical recall and its impact on the New Zealand preventative healthcare industry are listed below.

* Last Friday, July 11 2003 the Minister for Food issued another recall for Pan Pharmaceutical products in New Zealand.This has caused huge concern and confusion among consumers of health foods and supplements.

* The Health Food and Supplement Advisory Council wants it known that from its perspective the recall is over - ALL Pan products and those with Pan ingredients were withdrawn from sale when the first concerns about the rogue manufacturer were raised in Australia.

* They want consumers to know that all health foods and supplements available now in New Zealand are Pan-free, and can be used with confidence.

* The cost of the Pan recall to the New Zealand industry has been estimated at $5 million for the recall and up to $10 million for opportunity losses since then.

* There are growing concerns that the clean up bill for the Pan recall in Australia and New Zealand will run to at least $100 million some sources estimate and they questions about who will pick up this tab? (New Zealand is planning to enter into a single joint agency with the Therapeutic Goods Agency - the one which is driving the case against Pan in Australia). This agency has a 100 per cent cost recovery policy.

* The Latest Australian Financial Review (11 July) is running about a story about the latest Pan discovery - Pan Pharmaceuticals used rancid raw materials and blended ingredients when it made a trial batch of capsules intended for human tests on treating depression in pregnant women.

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