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 8: Through the looking glass

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


The health foods sector continues to evolve as scientific discoveries lead to the creation of innovative products, consumers are motivated to pursue healthier diets and new market opportunities arise in established and emerging markets. It is a fiercely competitive sector in which the pressure for new product formulations offering verifiable health benefits constantly pushes the boundaries of the regulatory environment governing new product approvals and allowable health claims. This book began with three broad objectives: the primary objective has been to present an in-depth analysis of health claims policies and regulatory frameworks governing the health foods sector internationally. Against this backdrop, the second objective has been to present an overview of the industry and market trends in major international markets including the USA, EU and Japan, as well as a detailed case study analysis of a smaller but growing market – Canada. Ultimately, the long-run growth and sustainability of the health foods sector internationally is dependent upon consumers: the extent to which products purporting to offer health benefits are attractive to consumers and whether the health claims accompanying these products are credible. The third objective, therefore, has been to provide a detailed examination of the growing body of literature exploring consumer responses to health foods and the role of health claims. While this can never be a comprehensive consideration of all the literature examining consumer attitudes towards health foods, the intent has been to capture a broad sampling of relevant socio-economic studies.

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