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 3: Evolving policy issues and regulatory frameworks

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


This chapter outlines the key economic and governance issues surrounding regulatory approvals for new health food products, the regulation of health claims and the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). It begins by outlining how these issues arise and why they are important, drawing upon the economic concepts of market and non-market failure. A major theme of the chapter is the challenges facing regulators in developing new policy frameworks and insights from the literature are used to examine the state of flux within policy environments. Three case studies are then used to illustrate different aspects of regulatory development. Canada is used as one of the case studies to examine the gradual process of regulatory adaptation in response to the relatively new category of health food products. An example of regulatory harmonization is provided within the context of the development of EU regulations that supersede previously disparate individual country regulatory approaches. The issues explored in this chapter serve as a backdrop for Chapters 4 and 5, which provide a detailed examination of the regulations pertaining to health claims and new product approvals in selected developed and emerging markets, respectively. The emergence of the health foods sector has raised a number of policy issues for governments.

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