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Hi teablends,

When I’m not hanging out here on Flying Solo, I’m a marketing consultant specialising in natural health, so I understand a bit about what you’re up against here.

The answer to your question about approval for import will depend in part on whether your product is considered a food or a therapeutic good (i.e. medicine) for regulatory purposes, and that in turn is determined by a combination of factors such as:

  • The ingredients it contains
  • The product claims you want to make about it
  • Whether you have adequate scientific or traditional evidence (as defined by the relevant regulations) to make those claims

In most instances, small businesses will prefer to launch foods rather than medicines – it avoids a huge amount of red tape, not to mention cost and time.

However, that does mean that you’ll be highly restricted in what you are allowed to say about your product (e.g. ‘detox’ may be considered a therapeutic claim and therefore not permissible on foods).

Usually, the best place to start with all this is to check the TGA’s Food-Medicine Interface Tool and see where your product falls.

However, I noticed in your other post that you haven’t formulated the product yet, so it may be smarter to familiarise yourself with both classifications and then see where you want to sit from a regulatory perspective (it will have a major impact on your launch costs, your launch timeline, your production costs and more). Once you’re clear about that, you’ll know whether to brief the product formulator to create a product that’s a food or one that’s therapeutic.

Personally, regardless of which way you decide to go, I would produce the teas here in Australia rather than overseas. There are two reasons for this:

1) Many herbs look very similar once dried and/or chopped, and it is not unheard of for substitutions to be used in formulas, sometimes to the detriment of people’s health – so you’ll need some sort of system for validating that what you’re ordering and what you’re getting are the same thing. That’s much easier with a local company
2) One of our resident logistics experts may be able to clarify for you, but my understanding is that in many instances herbs need to be fumigated or irradiated on arrival at customs. If you can source locally grown product, that won’t be an issue.

Hope all that helps, and please feel free to ask more questions and I’ll point you in the right direction if I can.

Welcome to the forum :)
Jayne