Bradbury, Jane, Lobstein, Tim and Lund, Vivien (1996) Functional Foods Examined: The Health Claims Being Made for Food Products and the Need for Regulation. Research Report. The Food Commission, London, UK.
Abstract

This report examines food products which claim, or imply, that they possess a health or
nutritional benefit to the consumer. These include the recently-promoted ‘functional’ foods —
such as those with added bacterial cultures, fish oils or soluble polysaccharides supposedly of
benefit to the eater — as well as foods which have for some time been promoting themselves as
having the benefit of added nutrients or being a rich source of certain nutrients.
That a food product should claim, or imply a claim, to be of specific health or nutritional benefit is
of concern to consumer and public health organisations for several reasons. Firstly, the claim
may be misleading in that the supposed benefit may not easily be obtained from the product in
practical use: the present survey found that most products did not appear to have been tested to
ensure that they actually imparted any health benefits to the consumer. Adding fish oil to white
bread, for example, was only justified by reference to evidence about the benefits of eating diets
that included oily fish, while the addition of soluble fibre to a soft drink was justified by reference
to reports which, when examined, urged that dietary fibre be consumed in its original food and
not in extracted forms.

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