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Systems-based approach may help food industry support substantiation of health claims

19 November 2014

The food industry must look towards systems-based approaches, similar to those used by the pharmaceutical industry, when developing new functional foods, according to a viewpoint article published recently in Trends in Food Science and Technology by researchers in Germany and Turkey.  Functional foods account for a growing percentage of the US food market, increasing at an annual rate of 8.6 - 20%, with some claiming medical or health benefits such as prevention and/or treatment of a disease, and coining the term ‘nutraceuticals’.  Examples of these products include those that make claims surrounding polyphenols, bioactive peptides and their effects on cardiovascular performance.  However, due to inconsistencies between regulatory bodies across different parts of the world, there are no set guidelines defining what evidence or clinical data needs to be provided in order to substantiate health claims, leading to a high rate of claim failures.  It is suggested that, in a similar approach to that taken by pharmaceutical companies, knowledge-driven systems biology that models and predicts safety and efficacy, should be more routinely used to find new functional food groups and to help make time- and cost-effective decisions regarding product development.  It is also proposed that a systems-based approach to discovery of molecular targets would allow for robust evidence-based substantiation of functional ingredients; it is thought that linking the mode of action for a group of ingredients to previously shown health benefits will help health claim approval rates. [Nutraingredients]

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