Japan—The Inventor of Functional Foods
United States—A Good System Gone Bad
United Kingdom—Chaos Reigns Supreme

Three of the largest markets for functional foods — Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom — have established various systems for permitting health claims for such products as a means of encouraging the development and consumption of foods with added beneficial ingredients. Theoretically, such products could lead to a public health boon during the next century.

Unfortunately, the regulatory frameworks that these nations have established for marketing functional foods have failed to protect consumers by ensuring that all products are safe and truly healthful and that claims are non-misleading and substantiated by reliable scientific evidence.

In such an environment, the full health potential of functional foods cannot be realized. Governments, after consultation with all stakeholders, should establish adequate regulatory controls. If that is not done, many functional foods may merely amount to little more than 21st century quackery.

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Copyright 1998 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. References available by request.