Analytical Issues in Functional Foods

Functional ingredients have helped to create exciting new markets for food manufacturers. Whether it's the super fruits, omega-3 fatty acids, sterols and stanols that promise health benefits to consumers, or the natural ingredients, whose 'function' is to replace synthetic alternatives, there are huge opportunities to create new and innovative products. However, there are also major challenges that can only be addressed by appropriate and accurate laboratory analysis.

There are clear advantages for any food manufacturer that can successfully develop a product containing an ingredient, or ingredients, with a proven health benefit. For that matter, there are also advantages for manufacturers that can use ingredients with perceived health benefits, whether proven or not. However, in both cases, it is important to understand what can and cannot be claimed when promoting these benefits to consumers. In truth, there are very few health claims relating to functional ingredients that have been accepted by EFSA, and those that are accepted don't relate simply to the ingredient, but also to quantities and situations of use.

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