Functional food ingredients can increase product value, but only when function is maintained


Director of Toxicology, Burdock Group Consultants, Orlando, USA

Functional foods and functional food ingredients are those substances in foods that confer benefits to the body in addition to nutritive value.  The concept of functional foods has come about as a result of a major shift in consumer preferences the world over to re-evaluate foods in the context of which foods will extend a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to only treating the body with medicine when pain and discomfort occur. But before food companies and their formulators initiate the use of functional ingredients, a number of issues should first be considered to ensure that the move to utilizing functional ingredients is advantageous for both the consumer and the food company.

Functional foods as a class were first defined in Japanese legislation under Foods of Specified Health Use (FOSHU) and had to meet a number of criteria that included: (1) the functional food was a food, not a pill or powder, (2) there is an absence of safety issues (often shown through safety studies), (3) functional foods can be consumed on a daily basis, and (4) functional foods must have a defined function on the human body and the effectiveness is clea ...