Functional foods: a survey of health claims, pros and cons, and current legislation

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2005;45(5):385-404. doi: 10.1080/10408390590967667.


Functional foods stand for a new category of remarkably promising foods bearing properties (i.e., low cholesterol, antioxidant, anti-aging, anticancer, etc.) that have already rendered them quite appealing. There are many classes offunctionalfoods (pro- and pre-biotics, dietary fiber, low fat, etc.), and their definition is occasionally confused with that of nutraceuticals and novel foods. Consumers' main skepticism regarding functional foods resides in the veracity of health claims and in the low and often inadequate control of their claimed properties. Legislation concerning this matter is progressing at an extremely low pace and currently only Japan, the U.K., U.S.A., and Scandinavian countries have managed to make notable progress. Moreover, the labeling of functional foods is far from informative, providing scanty information about nutritional value, storage, and cooking recipes. It is anticipated that technological advances in the food industry, in conjunction with extensive clinical trials and governmental control, will eventually guarantee the credibility of health claims and ensure consumers' confidence in functional foods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Food Labeling / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Food Labeling / standards*
  • Food, Organic* / standards
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Food*
  • Probiotics
  • United States