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Use of health and nutrition-related claims on new food products in the USA from 1989 to 2010

corresponding

STEVE W. MARTINEZ
Economic Research Service/U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, USA

Abstract

Health and nutrition-related (HNR) claims on food products can impact consumer purchases and dietary quality. This article provides an overview of the voluntary use of HNR claims on new food and beverage products over a 21 year time period in the United States. HNR claims delineated by product category and type of HNR claim are evaluated between 1989 and 2010. The share of new products carrying at least one HNR claim fell from 35 percent in 1989 to 25 percent in 2001, before increasing to 43 percent in 2010. Recent increases in the use of these claims by food companies occurred over a period of growing concerns over obesity, new trans fats labeling regulations, and consumer interest in an overall healthier lifestyle


INTRODUCTION 

The food industry has the capability to significantly modify consumer preferences for new products through its marketing strategies. One way that food companies can influence consumer purchases is through the use of voluntary HNR package claims (e.g., “low fat,” “no trans fat,” “high fiber,” “low sodium” and “reduced risk of hypertension”). These claims provide a means for companies to differentiate their products by identifying foods that are high or low in specific nutrients, which can assist consumers in quickly identifying nutrients of interest. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes HNR claims into nutrient content claims, health claims, qualified health claims, and structure/function claims (1). Nutrient content claims characterize the level of a nutrient found in food, such as “low fat” and “contains 100 calories.” Health claims characterize the presence or absence of a nutrient that is linked to a disease or health-related condition (e.g., “diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors”). Qualified health c ... ...



 

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