Regulating Health Foods

Regulating Health Foods

Policy Challenges and Consumer Conundrums

Jill E. Hobbs, Stavroula Malla, Eric K. Sogah and May T. Yeung

With ageing populations, rising incomes and a growing recognition of the link between diet and health, consumers are interested in new food products, supplements and ingredients with purported health benefits. The food industry has responded with new food innovations, formulations and enhancements that comprise the growing health food market, manifesting the need to design regulatory frameworks to govern valid health claims.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Jill E. Hobbs, Stavroula Malla, Eric K. Sogah and May T. Yeung

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, economics and finance, agricultural economics, health policy and economics

Extract

With ageing and increasingly affluent populations, there is a growing awareness and recognition of the link between diet and health. For consumers, this means seeking out food products with new or enhanced health attributes and navigating through the sometimes confusing maze of food health claims. For the food industry, this creates opportunities for product differentiation and drives incentives to invest in the research, development and commercialization of healthier foods. For regulators, this creates challenges in designing appropriate regulatory frameworks to encourage investment and facilitate innovation, while protecting consumers from fraudulent or misleading health claims. These issues form the backdrop to this book. The primary objective of the book is to examine the policy and regulatory environment governing the health foods sector internationally and examine key trends and industry developments in leading markets. In researching the book, it became evident that the ‘health foods sector’ is a diverse concept: it is defined differently, is regulated differently and encompasses different types of products, in various countries. As will become clearer in the material that follows, the terms ‘functional foods’, ‘nutraceuticals’, ‘supplements’, ‘natural health products’, ‘medical foods’ are used variously and interchangeably across different countries to refer to products with health-enhancing attributes. The inconsistencies in definitions across countries is more than merely pedantic: it affects how these products are regulated and positioned in the market, determines what health claims are permissible and creates complexities for firms seeking to navigate export markets.