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 5: Health claim regulations in emerging markets

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 reviews the regulatory environment for the health foods sector in key emerging markets, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Korea and Taiwan. As with Chapter 4, a primary focus of the discussion is the regulations surrounding allowable health claims, while nutrient content labelling regulations, nutritional labelling and regulations pertaining to novel functional foods are also discussed. Tables offering country-by-country comparisons of structure/function claims, disease risk reduction claims and nutrient content claims can be found in Appendix 1. In Brazil, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA in Portuguese) has regulatory responsibility for the health foods sector, including the establishment and enforcement of standards, new product registration and oversight of health claims. Brazil led the way in the development of functional food and health claim regulations in Latin America with the establishment of the Food and Nutrition National Policy in 1999 (Stringueta et al., 2012). Brazilian legislation does not define functional food but defines the basis on which functional and health (disease risk reduction) claims may be made. Therapeutic claims are prohibited. Nutrient content claims are also permitted and nutrition labelling is mandatory. Novel food registration is necessary for novel functional foods. Examples of permitted disease risk reduction claims in Brazil include: omega-3 fatty acids and triglycerides (heart health), beta-glucan (dietary fibre) and cholesterol, psyllium (dietary fibre) and fat absorption, chitosan and fat and cholesterol absorption, phytosterols and cholesterol, mannitol, xylitol or sorbitol and dental caries, soy protein and cholesterol (Toledo and Lajolo, 2008).

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