Boasts of 'functional foods' ought to be taken with a pinch of salt - Independent
"So-called "functional foods", containing added ingredients claimed to be good for health, are increasing in popularity. Consumers have been persuaded that additives can be good for them as well as bad.
Margarines that reduce cholesterol, yogurts to improve digestion and sports drinks that boost energy are among the top sellers.
But researchers warn today that the medicinal effect of the foods, also known as nutraceuticals, could rebound to produce unexpected side effects. They are banned in some parts of the world because of the risks.
Walk down any supermarket aisle and you will see omega-3 fortified eggs, probiotic yogurt drinks, sleep-inducing milk, and selenium-enriched bread.
New functional foods due for launch include the first cosmetic yogurt, made by a French manufacturer, which it is claimed will "nourish the skin from the inside". Cola drinks are planned with added vitamins and minerals. Mineral waters with added vitamins already sell well in the US.
A one-shot drink claimed to aid slimming which contains an extract of pine nuts containing hormones that increase feelings of fullness is already on sale in the UK.
But the new foods and their added medicinal ingredients are not being monitored in the same way as the launch of a new drug.
Even data on their sales is limited. Dutch researchers from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, who are experts in the post-launch monitoring of functional foods, say in one three-month period from January to April 2005, 200 new products were launched in the UK."
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